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A mild winter with little snow has been almost as useful to Bryan Health as another construction crane during its East Campus expansion project.

Crews have been able to work most days this winter to keep the $25 million new outpatient ambulatory surgery center and physician office building on schedule. The building is set to open early next year.

“We hope the weather stays good,” said John Woodrich, Bryan Medical Center president and chief operating officer. “It’s been our best friend to stay on track.”

Those who regularly drive by the two blocks between A and Everett streets and 50th and 52nd streets likely have seen the demolition of homes in the former residential area and the slow transformation of the neighborhood.

Recently, crews began erecting the elevator shafts, offering the first highly visible signs of progress on the new medical center.

Bryan Health began laying the groundwork for the project over the past two decades, buying property in the area as it became available -- 35 parcels in all, the majority older rental homes. It also bought six homes that did not go on the market.

Eventually, the homes were razed.

Last summer, Bryan broke ground on the project. Sampson Construction is the contractor.

“Now it’s going to finally come to be,” Woodrich said.

The center is a joint venture between the hospital and more than 60 area physicians. It will provide a space for outpatient surgery in gynecology, podiatry, plastics, orthopedic, dental and general surgery, freeing up operating rooms on Bryan’s East Campus for more complex operations requiring hospitalization, said Woodrich.

He said the project reflects a growing trend in health care.

“You’re seeing more things move from an in-patient to an outpatient setting,” he said.

That trend makes sense for both the patient and the health care provider, he said.

“You don’t have as much overhead,” he said. “You shut the lights off at night.”

The surgery center will occupy the entire first floor of the four-story building, about 17,000 square feet. The space will have six surgical suites, with room for future expansion. Floors two through four will house physician offices.

Only the more complex surgeries and sicker patients will be treated in the hospital.

Currently, outpatient surgeries are conducted through Bryan East’s medical plaza building, which shares its operating rooms with the medical center.

Space is at a premium, Woodrich said.

Once the new surgical center opens, Bryan Medical Center can begin renovating its hospital operating rooms, he said. Those surgical suites need to expand in width and size to accommodate health care technology.

Bryan Health is confident the ambulatory surgery center will fill the medical needs for the next 20 to 30 years.

Early projections call for 5,000 surgeries a year to be performed at the new surgical center. And if needed, the building is designed to expand.

Although Lincoln already has a variety of outpatient surgery centers, Woodrich said those are generally surgical specialties.

Bryan Health’s will be different in that it offers a wide variety of specialties and the convenience of being attached to the medical center by a skywalk. It was something the doctors wanted.

Bryan Health also has made an effort to be good neighbors to the surrounding homes and nearby schools, hosting meetings to provide information about the project.

Tracy Carr, a member of the 40th and A Neighborhood Association, said the association hasn’t taken a position on the project.

“I haven’t heard any concerns from our members or anything,” she said.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7225 or

On Twitter @LJS_Abourezk.


I'm a Journal Star night editor and father of five.

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