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SLIDESHOW: Enumclaw hospital reaches construction milestone

A crowd gathered Aug. 11 next to the steel skeleton that will become Enumclaw's new hospital to watch as the final beam was hoisted into place.

The noontime "topping out" celebration attracted doctors and nurses, hospital officials, civic leaders and other honored guests.

The history of the topping out ceremony can be traced back hundreds of years to Europe as a traditional way to celebrate completion of a family home. Today, the custom is continued most frequently on steel structures. An evergreen tree and a flag are attached to the last piece of erected steel before it is hoisted into position. Traditionally, workers and owner representatives sign the beam before it is lifted into place. At the hospital ceremony, everyone in attendance was invited to autograph the beam before it was lifted and secured into place.

The first name written on the beam was that of longtime hospital board member Keith Blackburn, who recently died.

Following lunch and before turning their attention to the special beam, guests heard from a handful of speakers.

"As my grandson would say, this is awesome," said Ted Lewis, vice chairman for the Enumclaw Regional Hospital board of directors and chairman of the Building and Property Committee. He noted how far the hospital has come since the September 2008 groundbreaking for the $65 million, state-of-the-art facility that is springing to life just across Battersby Avenue from the existing Enumclaw Regional Hospital.

The roof should be installed by mid-November with a completion date scheduled for 2011.

When complete, the 90,000-square-foot facility will double the size of the existing hospital and be one of the first "green" hospitals in Washington state, noted Roy Brooks, chairman of the hospital board and Franciscan Health System board of directors.

Dr. Gene Trobaugh, cardiologist and member of building and property committee, explained how the staff helped design the building, which will serve as a federally-designated critical-access hospital. The 25-bed facility will continue to provide around-the-clock emergency services, a birth center, in- and outpatient surgery and state-of-the-art diagnostic imaging services as well as have space to expand programs as needed to serve the community.

Trobaugh mentioned how the new hospital will not only be a physicians' and staff's dream, but will include large, private rooms with views of the foothills for patients, a healing garden, expanded and more comfortable waiting and dining areas and a chapel for prayer and meditation.

Some of those creature comforts will come in the form of a $2 million capital campaign set to take off, said Jon Flora, president of the Franciscan Foundation, and Megan Farr, president of the Enumclaw Regional Healthcare Foundation. The two are serving as co-chairs for The Campaign for Enumclaw Regional Hospital, a partnership between the two entities.

"Today is indeed an important milestone for all of us," Farr said.

Enumclaw Regional Hospital President Dennis Popp, promised those in the audience that the new facility will continue to provide a "warm, friendly and comforting healing environment." Despite the new facility, the hospital will retain the "hometown feel" and "personalized care" people on the Plateau have come to expect, he said.

"The performance complements this facility we're building," Popp said. "It's a beautiful facility, but its what's inside that counts."

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