Gail Coats stands in front of the stocked shelves in the new gift shop at Neshoba County General Hospital. The shop is three times larger than the original one.
Gail Coats stands in front of the stocked shelves in the new gift shop at Neshoba County General Hospital. The shop is three times larger than the original one.
The first phase of renovation of the old county hospital is on schedule with a new gift shop, sleep center, laboratory, chapel and respiratory therapy facilities completed, supervisors were told Monday during a tour of the facility.

Hospital Administrator Lonnie Graeber told supervisors and the hospital's Board of Trustees during a lunchtime meeting that work was going smoothly.

Graeber led a tour of the construction site following the luncheon, pointing out that the new, recently stocked gift shop is in a new location and is three times larger than the previous one.

It is completed, stocked and open for business, Graeber said.

Also complete is the new laboratory, respiratory therapy facility, sleep lab and chapel.

The laboratory is located where the old emergency room and X-ray department were situated.

Mitzi Singleton, director of the laboratory department, said the new laboratory was not as compact as the old area.

Included in the new lab is a computer room, blood storage, refrigeration, a break room and space for various testing machines.

"In the old room we only had a desk to store blood on," Singleton said.

There is also space available to add microbiological testing if the hospital ever decided to stop sending those off, Singleton said.

Those making the tour then traveled to the new respiratory therapy area where Roderick Jones, director of respiratory, showed off the new facilities.

The area is larger than the previous one and Jones pointed out that there was now a proper heating and cooling system.

"After 15 years we've finally got some air," he said with a laugh.

Jones took the crowd to the new sleep lab, which includes two bedroom units for patients and a glass-walled office for doctors.

Graeber said the new chapel is larger than its predecessor and included more seating. The new chapel is back in its original location in the old hospital.

Officials making the tour also traveled through areas where construction work is still ongoing for new administrative offices, pain management and wound care facilities.

The renovation work to the first floor of the old hospital is part of the overall $19 million project, which included the new adjacent hospital which opened in July of 2013.

Phase 2 of the overall project will include the renovation of the second and third floors of the old hospital to provide overflow inpatient and outpatient beds and the start of OB/GYN services, hospital officials have said.

No start day or cost estimate have been announced for Phase 2.

Also during Monday's tour, Graeber took officials to the nursing home where, he said, modernization was much in need as he pointed to two rooms, dating back to the 1960s.

He then showed an updated room with newer facilities, which included a modern bed and a fresh coat of paint on the walls.

Richard Posey, maintenance director, said that part of the update at the older section of the nursing home included the doors, all of which would be taken down, sanded and stained to give them a newer look.

In addition, hospital officials are planning other new facilities.

In February, it was announced that the hospital had purchased the adjoining Four Seasons property with plans to construct an outpatient rehabilitation facility.

In addition, the old AT&T property, between the nursing home and Four Seasons, will be reserved for future long-term care services and potentially assisted living, Graeber said.

Plans also call for the construction of a new medical office building on the southwestern side of the campus, with space for 10 providers.

The 22,000 square-foot building will cost $2,693,000 including site work, equipment and furnishings.

Other future plans Graeber mentioned included an expansion to the current ambulance barn, a new walking/running path circling the campus and new outside signage.

Graeber took supervisors outside to show them where the new signs would be posted.

He pointed out several banners hanging from the light posts. Starting at the entrance, circling through the parking lot and ending as the driveway curves around the building, the banners each have a single letter, C-A-R-I-N-G.

Graeber ended the tour by thanking supervisors and others for attending.