Demolition begins at Sumter Regional Hospital -, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Demolition begins at Sumter Regional Hospital

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December 19, 2007

Americus-  The wrecking ball dropped in Americus Wednesday. It was demolition day at Sumter Regional Hospital. Demolition crews are finishing what the March first tornado started. Over the next four months, Big Dog Demolition will pull apart the 54-year-old hospital piece by piece.

Chants of tear it down, rang in the background as Dianne Hall, who won the First Strike Raffle, ripped into the Physicians Office Building awning.

"It had lots of power that machine, a lot more than I thought. We kept hitting the steel and it took three blows to make much of a dent," said Hall.

The second strike came from State Senator George Hooks, tearing into the building in memory of his wife Gail, before the professionals took over. In four months what's been Sumter Regional Hospital for 54 years, will be rubble.

"It gives us an opportunity to begin seeing this ugly, old, damaged building come down and make way for that new Sumter Regional Hospital," said David Seagraves, Sumter Regional Hospital President/CEO.

During the demolition, plans will be finalized for the new building a 92 bed hospital with more outpatient facilities. Watching Sumter Regional be demolished was emotional for Registered Nurse Rory Castongia who wiped away tears.

"I was here during the tornado. I worked here for 17 years and it's like my home, and I just really wanted to be here," said Castongia.

In the emotion, an announcement, that $300,000 in federal money is coming for the new hospital to put in hurricane/tornado proof windows to prevent what happened March first when nearly all the hospital's windows shattered.

"God forbid something like what happened in March happens again, but that the hospital be protected by these hurricane slash tornados resistant windows," said Kenneth Cutts, U.S. Congressman Sanford Bishop's District Director.

Suggestions for the new hospital will be made as demolition crews continue their work and in four months, Sumter Regional Hospital as many remember it before March first will be reduced to just that, a memory.

If all goes as planned with demolition, a groundbreaking for the new hospital will be held in October of next year.