**Originally published by Paul Swiech in the Pantagraph Newspaper**
Sixty years after Dr. Lawrence Rossi Sr. opened Hopedale Hospital, his family and their workplace family are celebrating completion of a $10.25 million construction, renovation and equipment upgrade project in this Tazewell County village of 850 people.
“It’s awesome,” Lorayne Rossi said on Friday — the 60th anniversary of her late husband opening the original 20-bed hospital for $125,000. She was in the new hospital addition beside her daughter, Cynthia Rossi Noreuil, who is among several Rossi adult children and grandchildren who work at Hopedale Medical Complex.
“This is a continuation of what my husband started 62 years ago,” Rossi said. “I’m 92 years old and I’ve been here watching all this from day one.”
“He’s smiling with us right now,” Noreuil said of her father, who died in 2001.
What they are smiling about is completion of 7,500 square feet of new construction and 25,000 square feet of renovation — at a cost of $8.5 million — and equipment upgrades totaling $1.75 million.
About $1.2 million was raised in a capital campaign, said Chief Operating Officer Mark Rossi. The hospital will be re-dedicated Saturday.
The construction and renovation include a replacement emergency department with three patient suites, nurses’ station, on-call doctor’s overnight room, new entrance and helipad; five larger private inpatient rooms; six outpatient surgery suites; an outpatient surgery entrance and lobby; and a main hospital lobby with a patient conference room.
Within three weeks, a replacement, four-bed intensive care unit and a sixth private inpatient room will open, Rossi said. In 2016, a replacement chapel and dining area will open, he said.
Equipment upgrades include new electronic medical record, security system and nurses’ call system, Rossi said.
Patients, family members and employees have commented on the natural light and improved air flow in the new and renovated areas, Rossi said.
“I couldn’t be more excited about it,” said Diane Imig of Tremont, an emergency department and ICU registered nurse.
“Our facilities finally match the excellent care that our physicians give our patients,” said Imig, who has worked at the medical complex for 21 years. “We have more space and better equipment and the patients have more privacy and a better environment for rest.”
“I don’t think you can find another small village in this country that has what we have here,” said Dr. Al Rossi, chief executive officer, general surgeon and primary care physician.
The medical complex — with 317 employees — has survived because it has diversified, said Al Rossi. In addition to the 25-bed hospital, the complex includes a nursing home, an assisted and independent living facility, wellness center and doctors’ offices.
While the number of inpatients is small, the emergency department (with 2,700 visits a year) and outpatient services (20,000 visits a year) are busier than ever, Mark Rossi said.
Imig said the medical complex thrives “because the doctor who does your surgery is the same doctor who visits you in your hospital room.”
“This is a family operation and the patients feel it,” Al Rossi said.
“We learned by dad’s example,” said Noreuil, director of the assisted and independent living facility. “He didn’t ask for a model. He created his own vision.”