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Hospital Rises On Schedule

Pendleton’s evolving $70 million hospital got bones last summer — 939 beams and 279 columns. Now the 103,000-square-foot medical center has most of its skin and some internal organs.

Motorists driving by the southwest Pendleton site on Highway 395 have a clear view of the emerging medical center and its almost-complete slate covering. Two workers installed slate Thursday in a boom lift high above the ground on the east side of the structure. They hung rock slabs off a metal framework covering a layer of thermal insulating material.

Inside the building, the interior framing is almost complete and an intricate maze of infrastructure has materialized — ductwork, fire sprinklers, electrical conduits, hydraulic piping.

“Things are moving along,” said project manager Joe Kunkel. “After all the months of planning, it’s fun to see it come alive in 3-D.”

Kunkel, of The Healthcare Collaborative Group in Portland, said the project has stayed on track since ceremonial shovels first bit into the earth last spring.

“We’re 225 days from giving them the keys to the building,” Kunkel said. “We’re ahead of schedule and on budget. We’re feeling pretty good.”

Max Hochanadel, a field engineer with Seattle’s Sellen Construction, moved to Pendleton for the duration and joined a large, multifaceted crew.

“This week, we had 122 workers on site,” said Hochanadel, his breath puffing out white in the frosty air. “We’ve had 95,000 man-hours worked on the hospital.”

The concrete masonry shell of a medical office building rises from the dirt just west of the future hospital. Some of the same slate being applied to the hospital will soon cover the office building too. Within a couple weeks, Hochanadel said, steel columns and joists will appear followed by roof and second-floor decking. Construction on the medical office building began a couple months ago.

Kunkel said the hospital won’t accept patients until November 2013, a few months after construction finishes.

“It will be a blank canvas,” Kunkel said. “Everything from supplies to artwork and furniture needs to be put in place.”

Staff will also need to try their new environment on for size.

“We will run clinical vignettes and disaster drills,” he said. “That creates muscle memory. We do that before any patient sets foot in the building.”

The fate of the current hospital is still in question. St. Anthony interim CEO Jim Schlenker said the company is having the buildings appraised.

“We are not entertaining offers from anybody at this point,” he said. “We have nothing on the market.”

If the aging hospital doesn’t sell, Schlenker said the board will not allow the building to decay and become an eyesore, even if that means removing the main structure and selling the land.

“We obviously know there’s concern about what will happen to the current facility,” he said.

Contact Kathy Aney at or 541-966-0810.

This story originally appeared in East Oregonian.

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