FORT BENNING, Ga., (July 17, 2013) -- The new hospital, located along the banks of Upatoi Creek, will open in fall of 2014. Soldiers, family members and retirees of the Fort Benning community will receive care in the 745,000 square-foot facility. The additional space will provide a more comfortable setting for patients and staff, as well as offer additional services and be twice the size of the current hospital, designers said.

The current hospital originally opened in 1958 as a 250-bed inpatient hospital. Today, it is one of the Army's oldest active hospitals.

"The existing MACH [Martin Army Community Hospital] has been a community landmark for more than 50 years," said Col. Timothy Lamb, former commander of the hospital. "Generations of beneficiaries throughout the region received top-notch medical care here. Memories and emotions are strong for the old facility but it has outlived its lifespan. The new hospital is designed to meet today's medical needs, while being scalable and adaptable for tomorrow's medical advancements."

Enhanced capabilities include two MRI suites and 10 pharmacy windows. The hospital will have six acuity adaptable intensive care units, 24 medical surgical beds expandable to double occupancy for surge capacity, 14 postpartum beds and a 24-bed inpatient behavioral health ward. The emergency department will also receive enhancements to reduce wait times and to better treat heat-related injuries.

Patients and visitors will enter through the grand concourse. The building's central focal point will separate the 70-bed inpatient area from the outpatient and wellness care facilities. Patients and staff benefit from the consolidation of the clinics and interdependent specialties, planners said.

"The grand concourse and adjoining multi-level atrium offers easy accessibility throughout the building, plus offers intuitive wayfinding," said David Fortune, the Southeast program manager for the Health Facility Planning Agency. "To help reduce patient foot traffic in the hospital, the pharmacy, phlebotomy and radiology departments will be located near the entrance."

Families are a major component of the care plan at the new hospital, Fortune said. They play a significant role in the healing process and to a patient's well-being. To help keep patients and loved ones together, surgical rooms will have a family zone, allowing Family members to remain with a patient throughout the visit.

"Inclusion of the Family zone is a major shift in the patient-visitor dynamic," Fortune said. "Family members will be able to stay comfortably in a patient's room and not have to leave because of the end of visiting hours, nor sleep uncomfortably in a bedside chair. It will be a tremendous comfort to both the patient and Family."

In addition to a completely different layout, the new hospital will incorporate best practices from private sector and clinical research health care facility designs to enhance patient experience.

Evidence-based design elements include access to natural light and outside views.

"The new building will have many windows throughout both wings, as well as the central multilevel atrium," Fortune said.

"Visitors and staff will be able to view the natural landscape of the Fort Benning community and healing gardens from different locations in the building. Multiple healing gardens also offer serene locations outside of the hospital to walk or sit for some quiet time while briefly escaping the events inside."

The modern hospital also combines evidence-based design elements with leadership in energy and environmental design energy saving requirements.

Natural light will fill the building through many windows, while reducing energy consumption.

A reduction of heating and cooling requirements stems from the use of rooftop gardens, energy-efficient windows and increased insulation.

Potable water needs for surrounding vegetation will be reduced by employing a rainwater collection system, drip irrigation and a sprinkler system.

"The new facility is designed to achieve LEED [Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design] Silver certification," Fortune said. "The energy savings, as well as the corresponding cost savings, for a hospital the size of the future (hospital) will be significant."

"I am very excited for this new facility to open next year and very proud to be part of this project," Lamb said. "The new (hospital) will be one of the finest medical facilities in the U.S. Army. The construction demonstrates the U.S. Army Medical Command's commitment to provide the best medical care possible to the men and women in uniform, and those stationed at Fort Benning. In doing so, we are building your medical future."