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Topping out ceremony marks milestone in hospitals construction
Construction employees line up for lunch at the site of the new Northeast Georgia Medical Center Braselton Campus currently under construction following a topping-out ceremony.

Northeast Georgia Medical Center Braselton celebrated a milestone Thursday with crews raising the final steel beam being used in construction of the new 100-bed hospital.

The hospital is being built behind Medical Plaza 1 near Ga. 211 and Ga. 347.

More than 150 construction workers and 125 guests celebrated the “topping out.” A crane hoisted the white beam, and two workers moved it into position.

During the past several weeks, employees from Northeast Georgia Health System have been signing their names to the beam, placing their mark on this commemorative last piece of the hospital’s steel structure. Guests were invited to add their signatures.

Carol Burrell, president and CEO of NGHS, explained the origin of the centuries-old custom includes placing an evergreen tree atop a structure to console the spirit of the trees for their sacrifice as land was cleared and trees used to build structures. The tradition was tweaked in this country by ironworkers who added an American flag alongside the evergreen. For this event, an NGHS flag also flanked the tree.

“The Scandinavian custom of a topping-out ceremony has always belonged to the people who do the courageous and skilled work of physically creating great structures,” Burrell said. “And that is our desire today: To celebrate the men and women whose hard work has moved this community closer to the reality of a beautiful new hospital. We have said since the earliest stages of our planning that we wanted the campus to be a ‘destination,’ and their craftsmanship and hard work will make that possible.”

The majority of the workers and hospital staffers and volunteers sported bright yellow T-shirts.

Construction began on the 119-acre site in fall 2012 following a decade of planning. The new hospital will offer heart and vascular services, orthopedics and neurosciences, cancer treatment, surgery and emergency services. The five-story medical office building attached to the hospital is slated for completion next fall, and the hospital should begin providing “exceptional health care to this community close to home in the spring of 2015,” said Burrell.

Anthony Williamson, vice president of NGHS’ Greater Braselton Development, said the facility “will bring new medical services — modeled around the programs of excellence we’ve built at Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Gainesville — to the Greater Braselton community.”

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