New Petersburg facility to treat soldiers
PETERSBURG - Ground was broken Friday for a new 18,000-square-foot addition to Poplar Springs Hospital specifically for soldiers - the Military Services Building.
The $5.8 million dollar expansion project will add 32 inpatient behavioral health beds and will bring approximately 30 new permanent jobs to the Tri-Cities.
"One of the most important things we do is to take care of service members," said Poplar Springs CEO Richard W. Clark. "Over the past four years, we have been providing dedicated clinical services to the U.S. military."
That was formalized in 2009 with a covenant that was signed between Fort Lee and Poplar Springs. Clark said that during the peak of deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, Poplar Springs developed inpatient and outpatient programs in partnership with Kenner Army Health Clinic.
Since that time, Poplar Springs has remained committed to supporting the military, promising to develop a state-of-the-art facility designed to cater to the needs of the Army, Clark said. He added a majority of the health-care professionals in the programs are veterans themselves.
The groundbreaking Friday is the fulfillment of the promise to build that facility. In addition to the expansion, Poplar Springs is in the midst of a multi-million dollar redesign and renovation of facilities on the campus. Clark said by the end of the year Universal Health Services Inc., the parent company of Poplar Springs Hospital, will have contributed $10 million to the infrastructure of the hospital.
Scott Kardenetz said that the groundbreaking was particularly timely given the 68th anniversary Wednesday of the invasion of Normandy during the D-Day operation.
Robert W.N. "Wert" Smith, vice chairman of the governing board of Poplar Springs Hospital and incoming chairman of the Economic Development Authority for the city, said that he's been associated with the hospital in one way or another since the 1970s when the hospital was originally known as Petersburg Psychiatric Hospital and was located in another part of the city.
Smith said that at the time rumors were swirling that the hospital would be leaving the city. So work was begun to keep the hospital in the city, including the purchase of land to relocate the hospital.
Smith shared his own story of visiting the site of the D-Day invasion and seeing a cemetery filled with markers showing those who gave their life in trying to liberate Europe.
"I am so grateful the Poplar Springs community will be there for those members of the military that need our help," Smith said.
The addition should be complete within about six months, ready to open in 2013, Smith said.
Distributed by MCT Information Services