Jason B. Cutshaw
Members of the Fort Drum community came together at the U.S. Army Medical Activity’s Guthrie Clinic complex as they broke ground Thursday to begin additions and improvements scheduled that are to be completed during the next two years.
The $27.5 million construction project is a multiphase, 30-month endeavor that began in August. The ceremony signifies the beginning of vertical construction activities. Construction site improvements and new parking lots were completed May 26 to make way for the 49,000-square-foot facility addition.
Future project phases will renovate about 80 percent of the existing 65,000-square-foot clinic. All phases of construction are scheduled to be completed in February 2011.
“Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to our groundbreaking ceremony of the $28 million addition and alteration project of the Guthrie Army Health Clinic,” said Col. Jerome Penner III, MEDDAC commander. “These additions are for one purpose: to help take care of the best Soldiers, Families and retirees. This is an ongoing process to help modernize our facilities to take care of our nation’s heroes.”
Penner said the expansion of would allow an increase in the number of patients from some 36,000 to 43,000 Soldiers, Family Members and retirees.
New construction as well as ongoing projects includes the Guthrie Clinic additions and alterations, facilities for 3rd Battalion, 85th Infantry Regiment Soldiers; two pre-engineered buildings; a child care facility and renovations for Guthrie’s Acute Care Clinic.
Under construction is the 3-85th Infantry Wounded Warrior Complex that will house more than 200 barracks spaces, battalion headquarters, two company headquarters, a Soldier Family Assistance Center, dining facility and a rehabilitation facility that will ensure Fort Drum takes care of their wounded warriors in the best facilities possible.
Projects that are newly completed or are nearing completion include two $750,000 3,000-square-foot pre-engineered buildings. Both structures have been completed and are now open for business. These are located on the northwest side of the Guthrie Acute Care Clinic entrance, and house the Occupational Health Clinic and the MEDDAC’s Information Management Division.
Due to be completed by August is the $285,000 Acute Care Clinic renovation project that began in January. Renovations at the ACC include a new lobby and reception area as well as renovated and additional examination rooms.
Construction also began last summer on a $750,000 Short-Term Alternative Child Care facility that is expected to be completed in the fall. The STACC will provide child care while patients go to their appointments at Guthrie Clinic. This will improve patient care and safety for beneficiaries. The child care facility will be located adjacent to the clinic.
There are two new parking lots, one expanded and one constructed, which will help facilitate customers to the clinic complex.
During the process, the Family Practice section will expand from 14,000 to 20,000 square feet, and the Pharmacy will double in size to 6,000 square feet. The Physical and Occupational Therapy unit will grow from 4,000 to 11,000 square feet.
“When this is complete, we will have some of the most modern facilities in the Army,” Penner said. “This is a long time coming, and Fort Drum can be proud of its role in ensuring its wounded warriors are provided for by a first-class staff on a first-class installation.”
Penner also said that once new construction is finished, the clinic would begin to transition and begin work on much of the existing space to expand the Laboratory and Radiology departments, along with other areas of the clinic to further modernize.
“These additions will help us keep up with the growing needs of our customers and allow us to take care of their needs,” Penner said. “We are proud of what we have started, and I hope to come back and see these magnificent additions when they are completed.
“Our Soldiers deserve the best,” he added.