KMC topping off ceremony

A topping off ceremony was held for the Novant Health Kernersville Medical Center (KMC) expansion project on Thursday morning.
Those in attendance got to sign the final steel beam for the new fourth floor of KMC. The steel beam, which had a small tree and an American flag on it, was then raised to the fourth floor by the 262-foot-long, 137-foot-high crane, put into place and then welded into place.
This is all part of Novant Health KMC’s 60,000 square foot expansion project, estimated to cost about $55 million. Novant Health KMC is constructing a fourth-floor birthing center. The expansion project will also include the addition of medical beds and an expanded intensive care unit and the installation of a new heart and vascular lab. When the medical facility was first constructed in 2011, future expansion was very much in mind. Currently, it is a 50-bed hospital. The current expansion will add 33 more beds, and the facility could easily accommodate 100 beds or more.
Kirsten Royster, president and chief operating officer of KMC, spoke to those in attendance and thanked everyone who has been a part of what KMC is, and what it is becoming.
“Some of you have supported this vision of ours for over a decade. This is our new journey. We are adding new medical beds and an advanced intensive care unit that is larger. The heart and vascular lab is well underway on the first floor and should open in spring of next year,” Royster said. “The fourth-floor new birthing center will provide maternity services. We have designed the space, so it is patient, family, guest and team member centric, and I think you will really love it. To put it simply, this is about expanding a very special community medical center. It is about dedication to providing everything from acute and advance care services to maternity services. It is about a comforting healing and state-of-the-art environment, and it is about our team members who constantly give their hearts and souls to this place.”
Wes Altman, senior project manager for Christman/DA Everett, explained the origins and symbolism of the topping off ceremony to those in attendance.
“Topping off a facility doesn’t mean the project is completed. It has since come to mean the structure of the project is completed. You can’t miss the flag or the tree on the steel beam that you signed today and they are both symbolic. It is reminiscent of an old-fashioned barn raising celebration they had back in older times,” Altman said. “The tree conveys different meanings. It allegedly traces all the way back to old Scandinavian mythology. The religious rite was to place the tree on top of the new structure to appease the tree dwelling spirits displaced in its construction. Others saw the tree as a symbol of good luck and prosperity for future occupants of the building. Now, it celebrates the completion of the building structure.
“The flag was an expression of pride by the construction workers and is a symbol the construction framework is completed. It also supplies a message to the building owners that the construction has advanced to a point for the people in the area and that Novant is moving upward and preparing to serve the community. Placing the final piece of steel at the top is representative really of a mountaineer planting a flag, reaching the top pinnacle and claiming the rewards of being the first to reach the top and claim ownership for the flag the country belongs to.”
After Altman spoke, KMC Chaplain Andrea Edwards led everyone in attendance in prayer.
The anticipated completion date for the expansion is late 2023. The Christman Company is the general contractor, and McCulloch England Associates Architects is the architect.
The current services offered at Novant Health KMC include breast health, cancer, diabetes, emergency, heart and vascular, imaging, infusion, inpatient, laboratory, neurology, orthopedics and sports medicine, spiritual care, rehabilitation, respiratory, stroke and mini-stroke, surgery, women’s health, women’s heart and wound care.
Novant Health is a three-state integrated network of physician clinics, outpatient facilities and hospitals that delivers a seamless and convenient healthcare experience to our communities. The Novant Health network consists of more than 1,800 physicians and over 35,000 employees that provide care at more than 800 locations, including 15 medical centers and hundreds of outpatient facilities and physician clinics.

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