Northern Light Mercy Hospital celebrated a milestone in the expansion of its Fore River hospital with a topping off ceremony. During the celebratory event, held Thursday, September 17, the beam marking the structural completion of the new building was hoisted into place by construction crews.
The beam had been signed by employees, staff, volunteers, Sisters of Mercy, Bishop Robert Deeley, and members of the community, many of whom included good wishes for the project’s safe completion and for the continued success of the hospital. To make sure everyone at the hospital’s State Street and Fore River campuses had the opportunity to sign it, crews brought the 30-feet beam to the State Street hospital a few weeks ago. While not a small feat, as Mercy Hospital President Charlie Therrien pointed out, it was an important one.
“While it’s part of the physical construction, the last steel beam that goes in, it’s a representation of our people, the people that have made a difference for 100-plus years carrying out the mission of Mercy in two pandemics,” said Therrien. “They’re the backbone of the organization, and I think it’s only appropriate that their names are on it to continue the legacy here.”
During the topping off ceremony, Bishop Robert Deeley expressed his gratitude to all who made the consolidation plan possible. He then offered a prayer that one day it would “become a place where physicians and health care workers practice the art of healing wisely, where nurses and aides serve the sick with care, and where the faithful come to visit Christ in the person of their brothers and sisters."
Mercy Hospital's history goes back to 1918 when, in response to the Spanish influenza pandemic, Bishop Louis Walsh approached the Sisters of Mercy about establishing a new hospital. The original Queens Hospital soon expanded to include the current State Street campus. In 2008, the hospital opened a second campus, Mercy Fore River, with an eye towards eventually adding on to that facility and consolidating services there. Earlier this year, Mercy received state approval to complete the consolidation of services and hospital operations to an expanded Mercy Fore River campus, paving the way for construction to begin. As part of the consolidation plan, Mercy sold its State Street campus and will lease back the property until the Fore River project is completed in 2022.
Despite the pandemic, the project is both on schedule and on budget.
“Mercy is a place of healing. It’s not just a place of healing though. It has its own soul, and I think that this building really stands as a beacon for the proposition that Mercy will leave nobody in this community behind,” said Chris Howard, the One Mercy capital campaign chair. “I really think that’s the personal connection that’s raised the first $18 million of this $20 million campaign.”
“This moment is not unlike the ethic of the staff of Mercy Hospital. It is a moment when we pause and give thanks and give back to our mission of caring for those in need and for each other. Much work does remain on this physical structure for sure, just as much work remains ahead of us in the care of our community,” said Tim Dentry, Northern Light Health president and CEO.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic and the need for social distancing, attendance at the topping off ceremony was limited. The ceremony was, however, livestreamed so that employees on both Mercy campuses could watch. Several members of the Sisters of Mercy were among those present to watch the final beam lifted into place, a sign that the healing work they started more than 100 years ago will continue.
To learn more about the project and to make a contribution towards it, please visit https://northernlighthealth.org/onemercy.