MERCED -- It's starting to look like a real hospital.
The seven-story building that dominates the skyline of north Merced is scheduled to open as Merced's new hospital in May, but the actual building and construction should be done in about six weeks.
Mercy Medical Center Merced is spending more than $262 million on the hospital, which will open with 185 beds. The hospital on 13th Street has 174 beds for patients. In about 20 years, the new hospital is expected to have 435 beds for patients.
"We're a little more than 90 percent complete," said Mike Kasey, construction manager of Harris and Associates, the construction management company for the project. "We're exactly on schedule."
Once construction is complete, the finishing touches will be put in and staff will be trained in the new hospital.
Most of the new building has flooring, along with counters and some beds. The labor and delivery suites are big and airy, with soft colors of pastel blue and green on the floors and curtains.
"We tried to have a healing environment," Kasey said. "We didn't want it to look so institutional."
Most of the rooms will be private, as opposed to the hospital now in use, which has only a few private rooms. Some rooms at the 13th Street facility have four patients at a time in them.
The rooms at the new facility are bigger and even the rooms on the lower floors have great views.
Mercy spokesman Robert McLaughlin said Mercy's new emergency room will have 27 examination rooms, compared with 17 in use now.
The new hospital has been planned since 2001, when California hospitals were told that new earthquake regulations for acute health care facilities would go into effect in 2008. Although hospitals got extensions on the time they needed to replace older facilities, Mercy decided to build the hospital that will replace a building that is more than 50 years old.
"The new hospital represents the future of health care in Merced County and a significant step forward in taking care of people," McLaughlin said.
The new facility will have a healing garden, along with a big water feature near the main entrance of the building.