La PORTE — The final beam was ceremoniously hoisted to the top of the new La Porte Hospital building Thursday, marking a huge milestone in the construction.

The hospital, along with Robins & Morton, general contractor for the project, invited the public to witness the achievement at a Topping Out Celebration.

The beam marked the completion of the new hospital’s skeleton, though plenty of additional work is needed before it becomes operational. Currently, the hospital is on track to open by late 2020.

Ironworkers, staff and friends gathered outside the construction site to hear officials before the crew installed the final beam.

Josh Young, project superintendent from Robins & Morton, directed the crowd’s attention to the white beam emblazoned with signatures from dozens of residents and hospital staff. Sitting a top the beam was a billowing American Flag and a potted evergreen.

“Traditionally, the evergreen has been used to [signify] that no deaths had [occurred] during the construction,” Young said. “Today, we had it on the beam to [symbolize] that there were no injuries, and also for a little bit of good luck.

“We also put the American flag on the beam. There are a lot of patriotic people on the job.”

La Porte Hospital CEO Ashley Dickinson said “construction of the new La Porte Hospital will be truly impactful for the community for many years to come. I am proud of all of the individuals who were a part of this project.”

Dickinson thanked Robins & Morton.

“Your leadership and expertise has been at the forefront of this project, and we are so excited to be on schedule to open in the fourth quarter of 2020, despite the many rainy days we had in the spring and summer,” she said. “I appreciate each of you and your commitment to La Porte Hospital.”

She also commented on the skills of the Local 292 Ironworkers.

“I’ve been in awe of your work for the past several months. I know that you all have placed more than three million pounds of steel in this facility — and with no injuries. That’s so incredible,” Dickinson said.

Craig Menne, La Porte Hospital Board chairman, said he was proud to see that the ironworkers were able to finish without sustaining any work-related injuries.

“Our highest priority is providing safe and quality care. To every single one of you who have had a part in directly building this structure and getting it to where it is today, I want to say thank you,” Menne said.

The superintendent then indicated it was time to lift the beam to the crane operator. Silence fell on the crowd as the crane lifted the beam to the top of the building. The silence turned to roaring applause once the ironworkers successfully put the beam into place, closing the ceremony.

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