By Errol Castens

Daily Journal

OXFORD – Once obscured by woods that covered most of it, the future site of Baptist Memorial Hospital-North Mississippi is visible to motorists and pedestrians from several directions.

Clearing and land-shaping are nearing completion on the 149-acre site that sits between Old Taylor Road, Highway 6/278 and Lamar Boulevard.

“The contractors have been able to make good progress in moving dirt,” said Bill Henning, the hospital’s administrator. “Tentatively, the contractor is trying to get as much work done as he can before mid-November. Historically, it’s hard to get a lot of work done after that due to winter rains.”

After letting the formerly extremely hilly site settle over the winter, contractors will complete site preparation next spring and begin construction of a road through it before starting construction of the structure itself.

“We would hope to have at least limited access for the public to that road well ahead of the hospital’s completion,” Henning said. “We know city leaders are eager to have that in place.”

The new hospital is scheduled for completion in December 2017. According to the state-issued Certificate of Need, it will duplicate the current 217 patient beds in larger rooms designed better to accommodate both medical equipment and family members.

The design of the $250 million, six-story structure will remedy some problems created in the existing hospital’s floorplan by several additions during the 22 years Baptist leased the current facility. Among others, emergency medicine and surgical departments will be relocated close together, and floor-to-floor heights will increase to accept new technologies.

Henning said preliminary planning is nearly complete for the 680,000-square-foot hospital, which will occupy approximately 21 acres of the site.

“We’re about 90 percent doing the single-line drawings,” he said. “At some point we could put the plans online. … If it’s more of a technical issue, we’d be more than happy to share (the design) with the public.”

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