Work begins on $55M NMMC project

By Michaela Gibson Morris / NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Parking lot asphalt and tree roots came up Monday as construction work began on North Mississippi Medical Center’s new West Bed Tower project.
When the $55.1 million expansion and renovation project is completed in three and a half years, NMMC will have 250 larger rooms, replacing more than half of the patient rooms at the hospital’s main unit.
“The rooms will be bigger than the existing rooms,” said Bruce Ridgway, vice president for facilities, providing more room for families. Staff will have dedicated work space in each room and patients will be able to adjust window blinds, room temperature, lighting, TV and talk to a nurse with a single control box.
The first phase of construction, which began Monday under the direction of general contractor Jesco, will add a new five-story wing between the existing west bed tower and South Gloster Street over the next two years.
On Monday, construction closed the northwest parking lot adjacent to the NMMC Rehabilitation Institute that was primarily used by hospital vendors and employees, Ridgway said. The public southwest parking lot adjacent to the current admissions/discharge entrance will remain open until an underground fuel tank has been relocated to retain as many handicapped parking spaces as possible.
As construction progresses, in late January or early February, the admissions and discharge entrances will shift to the main South entrance off Garfield Street. Patients and their families will be able to access the first floor admissions lobby via the staircase or the elevators at the back of the lobby.
There will be some initial work on the existing building to remove parts of a ledge that once held aluminum airplane wings that had been attached to the west side of the hospital in an effort to block the afternoon sun.
“We need to make room for the equipment to allow us to drill next to the building,” Ridgway said.
Major construction will begin with an excavation for the new building’s foundation. The new building will be constructed from concrete, which is currently less expensive than steel and better allows the hospital to match existing floor levels and accommodate equipment, Ridgway said.
When the expansion is complete, a walkway will connect the new west bed tower to the existing one. The renovation of the existing bed tower is expected to take a year and a half and the rooms will be identical to the newly constructed ones. The current west bed was built about 50 years ago, and the rooms are cramped and lack private showers.
“We’re taking everything away except the floor slab and the columns,” Ridgway said.
Contact Michaela Gibson Morris at (662) 678-1599 or michaela.morris@djournal.com.