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Patient tower work moves forward

$4.25 million project expected to be completed late 2014

October 22, 2012
Morning Journal News


Staff Writer

SALEM - Local union workers have been cementing the foundation for Salem Community Hospital's future as construction of a new patient bed tower keeps moving forward.

Article Photos

Workers continue laying the groundwork for Salem Community Hospital’s new patient bed tower which will be located east of the main entrance and include a two-level parking garage and three floors dedicated to patient care. The project is slated for completion in January 2014. (Salem News photo by Mary Ann Greier)

"We want to get up out of the ground before winter," SCH President/CEO Steve Ruwoldt said during a recent interview.

Area residents may have noticed some concrete forms taking shape on the construction site located on the east side of the hospital campus where a two-story parking deck and three floors dedicated to patient care will be attached to the hospital's main entrance and ground floor.

Ruwoldt explained that 255 auger piles 50 feet deep are being filled with cement and will serve as anchors for the new building. Workers have been pouring cement for the walls of the foundation.

Fact Box

Patient Tower Plans

-$4.25 million project

-Four-story tower, attached two-story parking deck below patient floors

-Location east of existing main lobby, in front of cafeteria and surgery center

-Rectangular tower, racetrack design, central nurses' stations

-Ground floor, atrium concourse to current lobby and cafeteria, gift shop, coffee kiosk, concourse seating, meeting room, receptionist station, connection to ground level of parking deck

-First floor, 27 beds, new location intensive care unit, step down unit

-Second floor, 30 surgical/pediatric patient beds

-Third floor, 30 medical/surgical patient beds

-All 87 rooms private, acuity adjustable to meet patient needs

-Winter 2014, tentative completion

(Source: Salem Community Hospital)

"We're trying to use local workers and local companies and materials made in the United States," he said.

Cleveland Cement of Cleveland is the cement contractor, Sidley Construction of Youngstown is supplying the concrete. Sippel Steel Fabrication of Sewickley, Pa. is supplying the steel which will be milled in Ohio and erected by Kelley Steel Erectors of Bedford. Otis Elevator of Cleveland will be supplying the elevators.

The construction workforce is expected to number 150 workers by the time the tower is finished. Unions working on the tower from the Youngstown area include Carpenters Local 171, Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 396, Electrical Workers Local 64, Teamsters Local 377 and Laborers Local 125. Operators Local 66 is from Pittsburgh, Pa.

Some of the project will be pre-fabricated at a site just outside Salem, trucked in and put into place by crane, including the headboards for the rooms with all of the technology installed and the bathrooms.

Hospital officials unveiled the plans for the patient tower in May and broke ground in July, with completion expected by January 2014. So far, Ruwoldt said the $42.5 million project is on time and on budget.

While the construction crews work on the project, hospital personnel have been dealing with the effects of the project on current hospital operations, mainly dealing with getting patients and personnel from the parking lot on the north side of State Street to the hospital on the south side of State Street.

Ruwoldt said the hours for the free Gus the Bus service will be expanded beginning the first week of November. The bus travels the parking lots looking for riders and transports them across the street at no cost. The hours will be extended into the evenings until 7 p.m. on weeknights and a half day on Saturdays. Currently the bus runs from 6 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

"As the weather turns, we think Gus is going to be more popular," SCH Director of Public Relations Michele Hoffmeister said.

The hospital has been encouraging patients and visitors to park on the north side and either take Gus the Bus to get across State Street or use the walkway over State Street. The walkway can be entered from the hospital and the Salem Medical Center.

Signs have been posted advising people not to attempt to cross the street due to safety concerns, with a large sign posted on the side of the Salem Medical Center as the SCH Alternate Entrance. A hospital employee mans an information desk to direct people where they need to go and can wheel patients over the walkway in a wheelchair if necessary.

"We're just trying to make it as convenient as possible during this inconvenient time," Ruwoldt said.

He noted that the project is for the patients, for their comfort and their privacy. The 87 private, family-friendly and technologically-advanced patient rooms will replace the current double-occupancy rooms in the existing medical/surgical wing.

Having a private room decreases the chances for infection and increases family support because rooms will have hideaway beds in the couches so family members can stay overnight. The new structure will make room for the technology and free up hallways.

"This project gives us the room to expand into other services," he said.

Ruwoldt said plans call for looking at community health needs to see what additional services are needed.

As for the new parking deck, he said there are no plans at this time to charge for parking.

To follow the construction progress, check out the hospital's website at or the hospital's Facebook page.

Mary Ann Greier can be reached at



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