Construction pylons and uneven surfaces currently exist in the parking lot outside of the emergency room at Memorial Hospital, but the paving project is about to come to a close.

Construction pylons and uneven surfaces currently exist in the parking lot outside of the emergency room at Memorial Hospital, but the paving project is about to come to a close.

"Things are a mess right now outside," said President and Chief Executive Officer Olas (Chip) Hubbs III, "but I think they have done a good job."

Hubbs told hospital trustees in a board meeting Thursday night that it is obvious how the paving project, which began on Oct. 9, is advancing.

Laurie Whittington, chief operating officer for the hospital, said she thinks the parking lot project is going well.

"Right now they are working on the north and south lots," she said.

The lots are expected to open on Oct. 31.

The bulk of the project is on the east side of the building, right outside the emergency room.

Whittington said they have had great cooperation from the construction crews. She said they have not closed the road up to the emergency room, which allows continued drop offs by emergency squads and customers.

"If the weather holds out it should be done on Nov. 17 and Nov. 18," said Whittington.

The project may be pushed back to Nov. 30 if inclement weather conditions delay the project, according to construction officials.

Whittington credited staff for setting up a mobile registration for customers and being prepared at any door the patients might go through.

"I don't think there has been any disconnect from the patients," she said.

Whittington said she has not heard any negative feedback about the project, but Vice President of Human Resources Carman Wirtz said she has heard frustrations voiced by employees about where they have to park.

"It is never the new employees," said Wirtz.

Hubbs said employee dissatisfaction is a common theme.

"We don't exist for our employees," he said. "We exist for our community and our patients. Our worst parking spot is any other hospital's best parking spot."

Hubbs said the employees do not have to drive 15 minutes to find a parking spot and then go through a parking garage, onto elevators and walk lengthy corridors to get to work.

"We are putting a lot of money in parking," he said. "We are building sidewalks. We're putting lights in. We're making it as safe as we can and as well lit as we can."

The total project, according to Hubbs, is estimated at $700,000.

"I think most folks see $700,000 and choke on that," he said, explaining that it also encompasses storm sewers, curbs, landscaping and pavers.

Hubbs said he will not apologize for trying to accommodate patients.

The problems that were anticipated with the reconstruction, he said, have not come to light so far.

On Friday, Hubbs said, he was concerned that patients would be confused as they entered the two high volume entrances at the emergency room and the MacIvor which leads to physician's offices and radiology. Patients needed to be able to easily find their way into the hospital and the hospital did not want to lose business. Neither situation has been an issue, according to Hubbs.

Hubbs met with the Union County Commissioners, Engineer Steve Stolte and representatives of the Mental Health & Recovery board as well as Heartland of Marysville earlier in the day to discuss the Plum Street extension.

"We concluded today that we do not have a game plan for that," he said. "We are not going to pave Plum Street yet this year."

After the city paved its portion of Plum Street, Hubbs said, the hospital's original intent was to pave the floral property where greenhouses and flower shop once stood.

The project was put on hold because of financial reasons, he said.

When it became apparent that the paving of the floral property could not be completed with the $700,000 project going on at the hospital, Hubbs said, the plan was to do it next spring.

Stolte explained that if equipment is brought in on Plum Street next year for the remaining portion it would destroy any work that the hospital invests in.

"We are going to wait and do it all together," said Hubbs of all the affected stakeholders.

The project will be rebid during the winter to include the hospital properties, the new parking lot, the extension of Plum Street, all of Heartland's repaving and two parking lots belonging to Mental Health & Recovery and historically known as the Mills Center.

"It will be bid so that any one of those pieces can be pulled out," he said.

Hubbs said the hospital will ask the construction workers currently finishing up the parking lot project how much they will charge to fill holes on Plum Street since they are already in the area.

"Just to get it through the winter," he said.

Melanie Ziegler, director of public relations, marketing and development for the hospital, will coordinate a communications plan to explain to the community what is happening since the hospital frequently hears comments about the condition of Plum Street, according to Hubbs

He said he thinks that the community will understand if hospital officials say that they are packing the holes this year, but it is not a permanent solution.

"You have our commitment as a group that as soon as the weather breaks we're going to get the rest of it done," he said.