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      New St. Mary's to open months ahead of schedule

      Construction is nearly complete on the new St. Mary's Health Center on Mission Drive in Jefferson City. The facility will open on November 16, months ahead of the original opening scheduled for January 2015.

      "It's really a testament to how well the team has worked from the beginning," Brent VanConia, president of St. Mary's Health Center, said.

      "In the organization, the planning, and the fact that we didn't have as many change orders or hiccups along the way."

      VanConia also said good weather aided construction.

      Currently, the IT and clinical engineering staff are moving into the new facility. The rest of the staff will begin moving in around November 3.

      "[Right now we're] starting to move in all of our equipment, moving the supplies, staff orientation, physician orientation, training...we'll be doing some mock codes and drills in preparation for our first patients," VanConia said.

      Patients can expect all private rooms, a new outpatient platform and new emergency department with all private bays.Those are in addition to the new Blessed Beginnings obstetrical unit, which will feature suites for labor, delivery, recovery and post-partum.

      In addition to bringing over staff from the existing St. Mary's, VanConia hopes the new facility will draw more prospective employees to the health center.

      "I think it's going to allow us to recruit and retain very high-skilled employees who will want to come and work at a state-of-the-art, brand new facility," he said.

      In the mean time, the future of the old building remains uncertain.

      The state was going to take over the old St. Mary's Health Center to provide new space for Lincoln University's nursing program and other state needs; but Governor Jay Nixon cut the money for that to balance the budget against tax cuts approved by the legislature.

      There will be an open house for the Blessed Beginnings unit on September 12 from 5-7 p.m. The public can tour the rest of the facility during open houses on November 1 and 2.