IU Health Frankfort celebrated a milestone in the construction of its new hospital with a “Topping Off” ceremony Monday near the site of the structure just west of the current hospital.

A ceremony that celebrates the placement of the final steel beam or, in this case, plate in the construction, topping off marks the end of the structural phase of the project.

“Putting these steel plates into place represents our commitment to the community,” said Daniel Neufelder, president of the West Central Region of IU Health. “By this time next year, we will be cutting a ribbon to open the new hospital, which will ensure the community has continued access to high-quality health care into the future.”

Elected officials from both the city and the county were present, as well as many other individuals who had a part in the building of a new hospital in Frankfort. Each of them were given the opportunity to sign the final plate before it was placed on the structure of the building.

“Today, this is about the people who have worked to make this happen,” Neufelder said. “Most importantly, it is about the skilled crew (from AECOM Hunt) working behind us.”

IU Health Frankfort President Kelly Braverman called the moment a huge milestone.

“We have a handful of milestones, and this one is particularly meaningful because it is a celebration, it is a blessing and it is a good omen,” Braverman said. “Being able to keep the involvement of the community is really important for us. This is for the community, so inviting the community here to be part of the celebration was meaningful and important.”

Those in attendance were welcomed to come inside the current hospital after the ceremony in order to leave their feedback on what furniture, fabrics, paint schemes, etc. will be used within the new hospital.

“Inviting the community in to the furniture fair is important,” Braverman said. “There are two color schemes. 'Do you like the navy blue or do you like the teal?' Those things are small, but they matter. This thing is going to be here forever, hopefully, and having the community feel engaged right out of the gate is important.”

Braverman also announced that Encompass Credit Union has recently made a commitment of $150,000 to support IU Health Frankfort's visitor garden.

“This will ensure that patients and families have a beautiful place to rest and heal,” Braverman said.

A longtime member of the hospital committee, Clinton County Commissioner Steve Woods was glad to see the completion of the large frame of the new building.

“It definitely was a big milestone to see that all of the steel was up,” Woods said. “Most people don't see that in the back (west of the current hospital), and it is very impressive. With the final steel part being put up with the names of people who have been associated with that is really the icing on the cake.

“For me, it has been almost 19 years in the making that I have been on the hospital committee and trying to figure out what we were going to do for the future,” Woods added. “All the different entities have come forward, and now we really see that we have steel up in the air, and you really start seeing how big that actually is. It is more impressive than what it shows on paper and even more than when we walked through the cardboard cutout version of it (in the fall of 2019), which we thought was big until you see this. So, I think we have a state-of-the-art (hospital) which will take us out for years to come. It is nice to see all entities come into play with another big multi-organizational push to get something done for Clinton County.”