Holston Valley's Project Platinum enters next phase

Rick Wagner • May 13, 2007 at 12:12 PM

Blaine Douglas shows an illustration of Wellmont's expansion plans. David Grace photo.


KINGSPORT - The phase of the $110 million Project Platinum that starts Monday at Holston Valley Medical Center will be hardly noticeable to the public.

However, it is essential to operating the hospital, especially when extreme temperatures or a power outage occur.

The power plant addition will serve an expanded Tower D and the new Tower E with heating and cooling and will provide those areas with emergency backup electricity and provide redundancy for power backup across the rest of the Holston Valley campus, said HVMC President Blaine Douglas.

Jim Moore, vice president of facilities for Wellmont Health System, said the design of the power house addition incorporates energy-efficient equipment, which is good for the environment and will allow operations savings to be directed toward more direct patient care areas.

A new $10 million parking garage with more than 700 spaces was completed late last year, allowing work to go forward on the core of Project Platinum: $100 million in renovations and expansions to a campus that traces its roots back to Holston Valley Community Hospital, which opened in 1936.

The power plant and renovations and expansion of Tower D would already have been under way except for a redesign and expansion of the Emergency Department section of Tower D, Douglas said.

When the Emergency Department plans were initialized for Project Platinum, the operation was rated for 44,000 patients a year but being revamped to handle 60,000 to 70,000 a year.

With the operation approaching 80,000 a year, Douglas said Wellmont officials decided to make the project a little bigger to take care of the increased demand.

"We sat down and redesigned the Emergency Department," Douglas said.

Dr. Richard Salluzzo, president and chief executive officer of Wellmont and an emergency room physician, helped with the Emergency Department plan redesign.

Construction on Tower D - which with the power house and a new entrance is to cost $65 million - is expected to begin in late July with completion in the spring of 2009, Douglas said. Most of the subcontractors are local or regional firms overseen by general contractor Robins & Morton of Nashville and Birmingham, the nation's second-largest contractor specializing in, among other things, hospital construction.

Tower E construction will begin later to minimize parking woes.

"Parking was going to be a problem if we did both at the same time," Douglas said.

The project so far is coming in at or under budget, Douglas said. Planning for Project Platinum was under way when Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, increasing the prices of building materials.

"We included a Katrina effect," Douglas said of building in a 10 percent increase in materials costs overall. "We're going to be right on the money."

Moore said the budget built in some increases for materials and labor.

"That was just a wise thing to do. At the time, we didn't know how wise," Moore said. "We'd probably have to reduce the scope of work if it hadn't been for that."

The Certificate of Need from Tennessee allows for a 10 percent increase in the cost of the project, but the board of directors - which is updated on the progress and costs monthly - would have to approve that.

As part of phase one, the Tower D project will include a new fifth floor and conversion of existing fourth-floor meeting spaces into medical use. It also will include:

•A new main entrance fronting a 3,500-square-foot addition to the existing main lobby.

•An expanded Emergency Department and Level 1 trauma areas of almost 19,000 square feet of new space and 29,000 square feet of renovated space, yielding 60 treatment rooms.

•A 3,500-square-foot addition to the Pathology Department.

•A new surgery area with 12 operations rooms, two urology procedure suites, 18 post-anesthesia care unit rooms, and 17 same-day surgery rooms.

•A new Intensive Care Unit and step-down unit on the fifth floor, with 37,500 square feet featuring 20 intensive care rooms and 16 step-down rooms.

Part of the addition - an all-new expansion with an emergency area - is designed to add upper floors later.

Also in phase one is the new entrance to Holston Valley, which will go through what is now the Boys and Girls Club.

Construction on a bridge across Reedy Creek is to begin this fall, with construction of the access road off a planned roundabout on Gibson Mill Road to start after the Boys and Girls Club vacates its current location and it is torn down.

City leaders also have plans to realign the intersection of Gibson Mill and Stone Drive and put in a roundabout at the new Wellmont entrance.

Phase two will be new construction of Tower E space to house women's and children's services, including what Wellmont calls Holston Valley Regional Children's Hospital.

That project, to cost about $35 million, is to begin in the spring of 2008 and be completed in late 2009 or early 2010, Douglas said.

Wellmont announced last year an agreement with the Children's Hospital in Knoxville to provide services at Holston Valley and in Knoxville.

Although Douglas and others who use a 100-vehicle lot under Tower D temporarily will lose those spaces as the foundation is shored up later for the added weight of the building expansion, he said he looks forward to seeing Project Platinum come to fruition.

He was interim president of the hospital for about year before being named permanent president earlier this year.

Before heading Holston Valley, Douglas was directly involved in the planning for Project Platinum as chief operation officer for Wellmont. Moore said Douglas at that time was his boss, and the two worked closely on Project Platinum, something that has helped as the project comes to fruition.

"I was involved in putting Project Platinum together," Douglas said. "It was a natural to take this and run."

For more information, visit www.wellmont.org.

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