Construction starts on Memorial Health System's Athens medical campus
By Nicole Bowman-Layton, Messenger Editor
Oct 19, 2023 - by the numbers:
204 — number of modules used to construct the building
4 — number of stories the Athens Medical Campus will have
475 — number of miles modules will travel from New Holland, Pennsylvania, to Athens
51,000 — average weight in pounds of each module (62,000 lbs. is the heaviest)
$100 million — estimated cost of the facility
This architect rendering shows an aerial view of the new Memorial Health System Athens Medical Campus and adjoining parking lot. A two-story bridge links the two buildings. Construction started earlier this month and the facility is expected to open in spring 2024.
North America’s largest permanent healthcare facility built using off-site construction is being erected in Athens.
Memorial Health System is building a 100,000-square-foot, four-story medical campus along Columbus Road. Scott Cantley, system president and CEO, said they expect the campus to open in the spring, with the 13-room emergency department opening in April or May 2024.
“Then the rest of the building will start to open in phases, probably in the summer of 2024,” he said at an open house Thursday near the construction site. Several people representing the businesses involved in the project were in attendance.
Memorial Health System is a nonprofit community hospital and a regional referral center. The Marietta-based organization has locations throughout the region, including outpatient facilities in Athens.
“We would like to bring an access point that allows us to build primary and specialty care right here in Athens,” Cantley said. “Over the course of the summer, we acquired surgery centers here. Doctors are joining our health system, and we’re going to continue to grow and add services. This facility really brings one of the strengths of the Memorial System to Athens — our emergency service. “
According to Cantley, the first floor will be the emergency department. Outpatient diagnostics, such as X-rays, CT, MRI, etc., will be on the second floor.
“Some of the second and all of the third and fourth floors will be available for physician offices,” he said.
The unique building consists of 204 modules. Modlogiq, a smart off-site construction company, built the facility in New Holland, Pennsylvania, while crews moved dirt and built retaining walls to prepare the Athens site. Construction was completed in nine and a half months.
Cantley said he walked through the facility while it was assembled in Pennsylvania.
“Inside of the building is fully finished, like the ER’s almost practically ready to open,” he said. “So I walked through the ER, it’s beautiful.”
According to Jim Gabriel, owner and president/CEO of Modlogiq, the building was built as two, two-story buildings at his company’s site.
“We built it together, and then we dismantled it,” he said. “The modules are coming at a set pace. We have a staging area, where we’re staging modules, but we can only have so many there.
“We sort of have this just-in-time delivery of the modules. ... We’re bringing the modules, we’re shuttling them here to the site, prepping them for a crane.”
The crane — a massive red and black vehicle — uses the four to six pick points on the top of each module to pick up the pieces. They are moved into place and secured by the crews, some of which are the same people who built the building at the Pennsylvania site.
“Once they get bolted back together, and we get enough of the modules set, our crews will come in and connect the mechanical, the electrical, the plumbing and then start doing some of the finish work between the modules,” Gabriel said.
There will be between 30 to 100 workers at the site at any one time during construction. If everything is running smoothly, they can place about eight to 10 modules per day, Gabriel said.
Gabriel said that the systems — HVAC, wiring, plumbing, etc. — were all tested at the Pennsylvania site before being dissembled. They will be tested again on-site.
Gabriel said the project is the first hospital the company has built in Ohio.
According to information provided by Modlogiq, the construction process is more environmentally friendly as it reportedly saved 400 tons in carbon dioxide emissions. Construction waste was recycled at the Pennsylvania facility, making the Athens site waste free. It will also take less time to construction than a conventional building, about 1.5 years less.
The cost of the facility is estimated to be $100 million, Cantley said. Part of the financing was through bonds issued by the Washington County Board of Commissioners. In July 2022, Athens County commissioners approved a resolution allowing Washington County officials to issue the bonds, as the facility is in Athens.
Bob Gesing, the developer with Columbus-based mind, noted that Modlogiq constructed the building in a space about the size of a football field.
“When that building was being built, on one side of the building they’re spraying on fireproofing, and all the way on the other side, they’re already setting drywall,” he said. “If you can just imagine, you have a building like this where, you can walk through the building. You see people putting on fireproofing, then they’re putting in duct work, and they’re putting in conduits, and they’re putting in studs, and all of a sudden, they’re putting up drywall, all occurring at the same time.
“The level of precision that you need to do that is just incredible,” Gessing said.
Cantley said they can’t wait for patients to experience the facility, which will allow them to stay closer to home.
“It’s also good for the Athens community and will bring additional job opportunities for health care professionals in the county and region,” he said.