MUNSTER | A yellow crane jutting into the sky above The Community Hospital in Munster signals ongoing expansion there.
"It's a big talking point around town," Community Hospital CEO Don Fesko said of the crane.
He said people are excited about the construction project.
"It's a sign of growth in our community," he said.
Officials hoped to start construction in January, but delays in permitting approval pushed construction to start in early March.
"So far it's gone very well," he said.
Workers are forming the fourth floor deck. As of Tuesday, 35 of the 37 columns on the floor were poured. Workers also are removing limestone panels to make way for a link to the West Pavilion, Fesko said.
The larger scope of the $33 million project entails a 112,410-square-foot vertical expansion of the Emergency Department Pavilion.
Plans include adding private rooms, doubling the capacity of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, called NICU, expanding the main Surgical Services area and increasing capacity for stroke and heart patients.
"Since I started here, one of the goals that we've had is to modernize the plant," Fesko said.
When many hospitals were built, privacy was not as high of a priority. Today's patients appreciate extra privacy and expect modern amenities that typically would be found in a hotel, he said.
The first construction phase is expected to finish in May 2014, and workers will move into the second phase of the project, Fesko said.
Hospital services remain open during construction.
The last major expansion at Community was three years ago, in a $40 million undertaking to build the new Emergency Department Pavilion and add private rooms on three floors.