Larry Fillmer, executive director for the Auburn research and technology foundation, opened the ceremony inside the white tent.
A banner with a rendering of the new building swayed behind him, a mound of soil to his left with flowers surrounding it.
“East Alabama Medical Center has provided high quality, compassionate health care to this community. Now, we are poised to expand critical medical facilities to serve the needs of our citizens,” said Jimmy Sanford, chair of the Auburn research and technology foundation and an Auburn University board of trustees member.
The new center is expected for completion by October 2020 and will not only provide care for the citizens of Auburn, but learning opportunities for students in the university.
“Auburn students and the health science disciplines will have the chance to gain real-world, practical, hands-on experience with Auburn researchers and EAMC experts to increase their opportunity for collaboration of their new based knowledge, discovery and innovation,” Sanford said.
Jay Gogue, current interim and former president of Auburn University, was originally a part of the university initiative of increasing the reach into the health world, Sanford said.
Laura Grill, EAMC chief executive officer, addressed the crowd that filled the tent and spilled out behind it.
“I’m very proud of the long-standing partnership we have with the university,” Grill said. “From the Auburn University medical clinic that treats our students, faculty and staff, to our current relationships with all the different disciplines, the school of nursing, school of pharmacy. And really excited now with our partnership with VCOM.”
“I don’t know if I’ve ever seen members of the hospital leadership, members of the university leadership, members of the community leadership, but also members of the medical staff really on the same stage, sharing a common goal and vision quite like this,” said orthopaedic surgeon with the orthopedic clinic and managing member of the East Alabama Ambulatory Surgery Center, Trent Wilson.
Rabren General Contractors leads construction for the facility. The Ambulatory Center will have operating rooms that allow surgeons to provide orthopaedics, ENT, urology, plastic surgery and endoscopy, Wilson said.
This need has been a prevalent issue for the community and will also help EAMC with space issues, Wilson said.
Alan Moore M.D., medical director of the freestanding emergency department, said, however, that this facility is not only necessary for space but for how health care works.
The speakers, along with Bill Hardgrave, Auburn University provost, each took a shovel with a golden blade and white bow and posed for photos. They then took a mound of soil on the blade and each tossed it forward.
Interim Auburn University President Jay Gogue, Auburn Mayor Ron Anders, Opelika Mayor Gary Fuller, members of the Auburn Board of Trustees Member, Rep. Joe Lovvorn and Sen. Tom Whatley were also in attendance.