Trinity building for the future

Photo by LINDA HARRIS JE Dunn Construction crews attach cables before lifting the final steel beam into place on Trinity Health System’s new, $75 million patient tower. The beam, painted white, bears the signatures of Trinity employees.

STEUBENVILLE — Trinity Health System celebrated the end of Phase I construction of its new, $75 million patient tower Thursday, hoisting the last of the steel beams forming its frame into place.

CEO Matt Grimshaw described it as a “major milestone.”

“It’s a big day,” Grimshaw said prior to the start of the “topping off” ceremony at the work site. “We’ve seen the building come out of the ground over the last several months to the point where we’re putting the finishing touches on the structural steel. It’s a major milestone. Over the next few months you’ll see it go from being a steel frame to being enclosed.”

The final beam was painted white, a construction tradition, and put on display in the hospital for several weeks prior to the ceremony so employees could sign their names on it. Before raising the beam into place with a crane, crews also attached an American flag and an evergreen to the beam. The evergreen signifies the work was completed without a loss-of-life accident.

“About six months ago we stood here and had a groundbreaking and blessing event where we prepped the site, and today we’re celebrating this major milestone,” Grimshaw said. “This is complicated work — we’re putting up a couple-hundred-thousand square foot building with tons of structural steel. It’s gone well.”

With the beams in place, he said crews will be starting the concrete work during the next couple weeks. After that they’ll be working on the skin, “probably beginning that in early November.”

“Once we were able to get the steel going it’s gone really quickly,” he said. “We’re still looking at completion in the first half of 2021. The inside work will take a lot of time, but before we can do that we’ve got to get the building enclosed.”

The 183,000-plus-square-foot addition will feature more than 80 new private patient rooms, each with a private bath, as well as new public spaces, including a food court and atrium. They’ll also be moving offices and services now based at Trinity Medical Center East onto the Trinity Medical Center West campus.

JE Dunn Construction Supervisor Jason Maxson said his crews logged 12,350 man-hours and placed 961 tons of steel with only two minor mishaps requiring first aid.

The construction is a positive sign for the future of health care in the region during a tumultuous period in the industry. Belmont Community Hospital in Bellaire closed its doors in April, Ohio Valley Medical Center in Wheeling was shuttered earlier this month, and East Ohio Regional Hospital in Martins Ferry is set to close by Oct. 7. Residents, staff and patients of EORH have looked to Trinity in hopes that the system would purchase the hospital and keep it in operation; however, spokeswoman Laurie Labishak has said Trinity has no plans to purchase EORH.