CASPER, Wyo. — Employees of the Wyoming Medical Center will be a lasting part of the hospital’s new west tower addition.
The nurses, staff members and doctors have contributed more than $150,000 in donations to help fund the $42.5 million facility. And as a sign of their commitment, their signatures will grace a beam that will hang over the elevator shaft in the lobby of the new building.
Around 200 employees left their mark on the beam as construction workers continued building the framework of the addition on Friday morning. They used an array of colorful permanent markers to decorate the cold steel with a rainbow of insignias. Some just wrote their names. Others left eulogies for dead friends. One just wrote “God bless.”
Some employees raced to sign the beam, then ran back to work. Others, over coffee, orange juice and doughnuts, recollected their experiences at the hospital.
“I remember when it was just a small building,” said Mary Long, a volunteer at the information desk.
She’s donated her time for more than 13 years and has clocked in more than 2,500 volunteer hours. She was there when the emergency room was a new addition and when the parking garage became a welcome harbor for employee vehicles.
Other workers were more outspoken.
“I am proud to be an employee of the Wyoming Medical Center,” said Carrie Rogers, a social-work case manager at the hospital for more than 10 years.
There was an event for private donors who don’t work at the hospital on Thursday night. Their names are on the other side of the beam.
Earlier this week, the last of the steel was hoisted onto the structure. Next will come the masonry and the windows, said Vickie Diamond, president and CEO of Wyoming Medical Center. By late summer commuters on Second Street in Casper should be able to see the aluminum frame walls and by winter the building should be sealed from the elements.
If there’s one thing everyone is excited about, it’s having a real front entrance, Diamond said.
“Everyone’s heard about the official front door,” said Michael Fickenscher, senior project engineer for Haselden/Pope Construction.
The front door is one of many new amenities that patients and employees have been looking for in the region’s biggest hospital. But the new wing will also come equipped with a chapel, cafeteria, admission facilities and a wellness center.
Despite the modern upgrades, the new obstetrics wing is what people are really waiting for.
Fickenscher and three of his colleagues are brand-new fathers. Their wives were hounding them about completion dates.
“Our wives wanted the baby unit done sooner,” he said. “No longer will women have to be wheeled across the hospital.”
There will also be new surgery units and private rooms, an upgrade that many hospitals across the country are not fortunate enough to have.
Commuters and pedestrians making their way past the hospital will also notice a pine tree hanging between the Wyoming and U.S. flags. It has nothing to do with Christmas.
It’s centuries-old Scandinavian tradition that dates back to the year 700, Diamond said. The tree is a way for construction projects of all kinds to give back to the sylvan gods who offer the land for human use.