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SEBASTIAN — A $65 million expansion of Sebastian Medical Center, that adds 48 private patient rooms, is scheduled for completion by the end of December.

It is expected to serve its first patients in February.

Officials from Steward Health Care, which owns the hospital, joined with general contractors from Suffolk Construction Wednesday to ceremonially place the final beam in the three-story building under construction at the rear of the hospital, 13695 U.S. 1 near Roseland Road. 

More:Sebastian River among area hospitals earning top grades for safety

The 90,000-square-foot expansion was announced in January 2016 by former owner Community Health Systems Inc. and was expected to be completed in 2018. But the acquisition of Sebastian River Medical Center by Steward in May 2017 changed the construction timeline.

The expansion moves the hospital's main entrance and registration toward the back of the building. All pre-surgical services, operating rooms and recovery facilities now will be on the first floor.

The second and third floors of the new wing each will have 24 beds, bringing the total number of licensed, inpatient patient beds to 202, an increase of 31%.

“It was definitely time to upgrade to a new facility,” said Kyle Sanders, president of Sebastian River Medical Center. “This is a $65 million investment into the community.”

A similar tower wing was opened in 2010, providing 42 private rooms and a 16-bed intensive-care unit. That expansion cost about $25 million.

More: Sebastian River in competitive market with Cleveland Clinic Indian River

Sanders said the addition and reconstruction of the hospital’s first floor will help meet the needs of the Sebastian community well into the future.

“With the last beam going up, it is a great time to celebrate this construction milestone,” said Sanders. “It also gives us the chance to recognize the great work they’ve done on this project.”

Sebastian River Medical Center competes for patients with both Cleveland Clinic Indian River Hospital to the south and Health First’s Palm Bay Hospital to the north. Its new facilities will be attractive to patients who prefer private rooms, Sanders said.

Surgeons and primary-care physicians participated in planning the expansion/renovation. The medical center is expanding its primary-care physician affiliations, particularly in Vero Beach, where 51 percent of primary-care doctors now are part of the Stewart Health Care network.

“We’re definitely here for the long haul,” said Sanders. “We feel this project will allow us to better serve the community as a whole.”

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SEBASTIAN RIVER MEDICAL CENTER PROJECT

EXPANSION: 90,000 square feet, including a three-story tower with 48 private patient rooms

RENOVATION: 20,000 square feet at the current hospital

COST: $65 million

DURATION: 24 months, scheduled for completion in December

CAPACITY: Currently licensed for 154 beds, increasing to 202 beds

HOSPITAL OWNERSHIP: Steward Health Care, with 37 hospitals and 7,000 affiliated  physicians nationwide

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