A major milestone Wednesday in the construction of the new UK Albert B. Chandler Hospital.
It is one of the construction industry's oldest customs, the topping out ceremony where a steel beam is placed at the new structure's highest point. In the case of the new UK Hospital, that was some 240 feet in the air, and fittingly the highest ranking state, city and university officials were all on hand to commemorate the milestone.
Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear told the assembled dignitaries, "Kentucky is showing tremendous leadership in the health care field. In addition to directly serving and benefitting patients, the new hospital will attract even more outstanding doctors and more outstanding researchers."
Lexington Mayor Jim Newberry said, "This facility is already changing the landscape of our city, and soon, I am confident it will change the landscape of health care in America.
UK President Dr. Lee Todd reminded everyone that while the new facility will certainly help sick and injured Kentuckians, it is already benefitting the state in other ways. "Even in the economically troubled times we're going through right now, this project is hiring 500 construction workers. Many of the contractors are from here in Kentucky, most of the laborers are, and the bricks are made in Winchester, Kentucky, so this is definitely a Kentucky project.
The cost of both phases of the project will total about $700 million, and amazingly enough right now, everything is on schedule and on budget.
In fact, UK Executive Vice President for Health Affairs Michael Karpf, says, "We are on schedule and we're actually a little bit under budget.
A lot of hospital projects around the country tend to go over so we're very happy to be below budget. We're down to 18 months before the patient floors open and less than 8 months before the emergency room opens so it's a very exciting time."
That steel beam put in place Wednesday is part of the 4,600 tons of steel erected here to date, but who's counting.