FORT BENNING, Ga. – Hundreds gathered for the ribbon-cutting ceremony held Nov. 7 in the atrium of the newly-constructed Martin Army Community Hospital at Fort Benning, Georgia.
The ceremony culminated the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ $390-million construction project and signified Fort Benning’s commitment to provide quality healthcare to its wide-spread community of soldiers, families and local veterans.
The 745,000 square-foot, state-of-the-art facility doubles the size of its predecessor and improves the area’s medical capacity to provide inpatient, outpatient and ancillary services for more than 75,000 beneficiaries. The hospital will open its doors to patients Nov. 17 and employ approximately 1,500 civilians and 800 military staff members, said Alan Bugg, Fort Benning area engineer for the Corps’ Savannah District.
Its features include 70 inpatient beds, 24 psychiatric beds, 24 medical surgical beds, four acuity adaptable intensive care units (ICUs), four step down ICUs, five operating rooms, one orthopedic operating room, two endoscopy rooms, five labor and delivery recovery rooms and one caesarian suite, said Bugg.
The facility’s evidence-based design integrates and supports a patient-centered environment, according to Col. Scott Avery, Fort Benning Medical Department Activity commander. It includes walking trails and healing gardens for patients, natural palettes and lighting to enhance the healing process, and a noise-reduction focus to respect the privacy of its patients.
The sustainable design showcases large illuminating windows, green roofs, and insulated precast exteriors to meet the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design silver certification requirements, a nationally-recognized benchmark for green building design, said Avery.
“This new facility provides a healthier and safer atmosphere for its beneficiaries,” he said. “It will maximize patient and family satisfaction and well-being by co-locating related services into care centers, providing single patient rooms, providing appropriate levels of patient privacy, as well as places where patients can socially interact with family, friends and caregivers.”
BMACH opens as the Army realigns its focus on the resilient warrior, transforming from a healthcare system to a system of care, said Brig. Gen. Barbara Holcomb, Southern Regional Medical Command commanding general.
“This facility creates opportunities to collaborate with other federal and civilian healthcare facilities that can receive and refer patients to secondary medical specialists at BMACH,” said Holcomb. “I have full confidence that the Martin healthcare team will excel in its role at Fort Benning to ensure that the very best healthcare is available to our families.”
Savannah District commander Col. Thomas Tickner and South Atlantic Division Command Sgt. Maj. Antonio Jones, both in attendance at the ribbon-cutting, lauded the Corps’ accomplishment.
“It’s an honor to turn over the project to Fort Benning,” said Tickner. “It’s a great feeling for our folks who’ve seen the project through from start to finish.”
Jones emphasized the upgraded facility’s capability to support changing medical requirements for deploying and returning soldiers.
“We know the Army is dealing with a lot of suicide and post-traumatic stress disorder cases,” said Jones. “This facility will provide additional care that soldiers need to continue to be outstanding warriors.”
The Corps conducted five years of planning and collaboration with Turner Construction, the Army’s Health Facility Planning Agency, and General Dynamics Information Technology to complete the mammoth project. Despite contractual disputes that delayed the start of construction in late 2009, time extensions remained minimal once construction re-commenced in August 2010, said Bugg.
“There are always challenges and delays with a project of this magnitude but providing a quality facility for the soldiers and families of Fort Benning remained the most important goal for our team,” said Bugg.
The new BMACH opens as the Savannah District scales back on large military construction projects, said Tickner.
“This is the last large-scale project as part of the Base Closure and Realignment Commission,” said Tickner. “We’re in the beginning stages of another large Army construction project at Fort Gordon, but in the future, the number of military construction projects will be smaller.”
The original facility, completed in 1958, boasted a price tag of slightly more than $8 million dollars. The new hospital will keep its namesake, dedicated to the late Maj. Gen. Joseph I. Martin who was a pioneer of Army field medicine and implemented many of the medical methods still practiced today.