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Columbus leaves its mark on last beams of $1.1B expansion

Shelby Lum / Lantern photographer

The last three beams on a $1.1 billion medical center expansion will be added Monday afternoon. These beams, however, are a little different from the rest of them.

Marked with hundreds upon hundreds of signatures, friends, donors and staff at the Ohio State Wexner Medical Center have literally been able to leave their mark on the expansion.

By September 2014, Columbus will be home to one of the 15 tallest hospitals in the nation, the new Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute and Critical Care Center.

The Wexner Medical Center Expansion is the largest expansion project in OSU’s history and will include the construction of the $1.1 billion hospital that will stand 21 floors high over the Columbus skyline, said Dr. David Schuller, vice president of Wexner Medical Center expansion and outreach.

“It’s a project that impacts all parts of our medical center including renovating many buildings, but also the primary focus is on the construction of a new cancer hospital and a center for critical care,” Schuller said. “It’ll be taller than Lincoln and Morrill towers and we just finished the steel erection for that building. So it’s very evident on the skyline.”

The completion of the steel erection will take place Monday at about 4 p.m. when the final beam will be lifted to place on the top of the southern side of the building, Schuller said. The Columbus community had the opportunity to “Put their Name on the Future of Medicine” by signing one of three beams that have been traveling around the city over the last month.

The traveling beams have allowed people to leave their mark on what will become a permanent part of the new hospital.

“It’s all about calling attention to our expansion project here at the university,” Schuller said. “We want the community to be aware of it but we also want the community to feel a sense of ownership because indeed it’s for them, it’s by them and it’s of them. So this is just our attempt to get the word out to everybody about this spectacular project that’s going to impact the lives of millions of people.”

The traveling beams have appeared at OSU’s Spring Football Game, the University Hospital East, Easton Town Center, the Ohio Statehouse and Stephanie Spielman Comprehensive Breast Center.

“We are blessed to have the OSU Wexner Center and the James Cancer Hospital here in this town,” said Ohio first lady Karen Kasich at a beam signing at the Ohio Statehouse on May 16. “The beam signing, to me, is a show of support for not only the patients, but the physicians, and the nurses and the researchers that work in this town every single day to combat that horrific disease.”

Jenell Sullivan, a 62-year-old patient of the James Cancer Center, also left her mark at the beam signing. Sullivan was diagnosed with leukemia and lymphoma and has been a patient of the James Cancer Center since 1998. She is cancer-free today.

“It just feels good because you’re a part of the new (beams) going in and you’re hoping that as much good things that happened to me will happen to others,” Sullivan said. “They saved my life, they truly did. If you have any kind of cancer, you should be at the James because they just never give up.”

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