A crew from Pittsburgh's Century Steel Erectors hoisted a beam in place Thursday to complete the skeleton of Excela Health's new ambulatory care center in Unity.
The “nervous system and brain” of Excela Square at Latrobe — its medical and support staff of more than 200 — won't be in place until a planned fall 2017 opening of the $40 million facility, officials said.
A “topping-off” ceremony highlighted placement of the final structural beam. Tim Sheppard of Multi Metals, the Greensburg company building the steel portions of the three-story center, said this tradition for modern ironworkers recalls construction-related celebrations dating from the Roman Empire.
Area dignitaries signed the beam before it was raised into place with an evergreen tree and U.S. flag affixed. The beam will help support the eastern end of the first-floor roof, over the physical therapy section of the center.
The tree display is a remnant of a seventh-century Scandinavian tradition, Sheppard said.
“Today, it symbolizes growth and prosperity in the community and the health and well-being of the ironworkers,” he said.
Workers installed about 500 tons of beams over six weeks to assemble the steel superstructure, Sheppard said. His company has yet to install stair towers.
Work on the superstructure is about 85 percent complete and should wrap up in the next few weeks, Excela spokeswoman Robin Jennings said. Stormwater lines have been installed, and rough, unfinished paving is in place in the 350-space parking lot.
Jennings explained the building will be sheathed in plastic and heated so interior work can proceed over the winter. Once floors are in place, mechanical systems will be installed. Exterior framing could begin as soon as March.
Several area companies are involved in the project.
Ligonier Construction handled earth-moving; Pevarnik Brothers of Latrobe completed concrete work; H.L. Thomas of Vanderbilt is installing mechanical systems; and Laurel Nursery of Latrobe donated a ceremonial tree and will provide landscaping.
Excela Health CEO Robert Rogalski said planning for the facility — which is off Route 30 between the Mountain Laurel and Wildcat Commons shopping plazas — began more than four years ago as the Westmoreland County-based health care provider looked to consolidate sites where it serves patients.
“We have so many physician practices scattered across this part of the county,” he said, noting patients at the Unity site will benefit from free parking and the ability to see primary-care physicians and health specialists at a single location.
In addition to physician offices, the 115,000-square-foot center will feature a wound center along with occupational therapy, laboratory and imaging services. It also will offer a central training location for participants in Excela Latrobe Hospital's 40-year-old family-practice residency program.
While the Unity facility is modeled after the similar Excela Square at Norwin, in North Huntingdon, the newer site will not offer same-day surgery. That service will continue at the Latrobe hospital.
Maryann Singley, vice president of patient care services at the hospital, said she's confident that care provided at the new site “will only enhance the utilization of Latrobe Hospital as health needs that require hospitalization are identified within these walls.”
She said the model of health care represented at the Norwin and Latrobe care centers should help Excela recruit and retain doctors.
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