Foundation pouring at Riverside Smithfield Hospital to begin next month

Published 6:13 pm Tuesday, November 14, 2023

Progress on the 50-bed Riverside Smithfield Hospital slated to open in 2026 might not be visible from the street, but it’s happening all the same.

“Site work is well underway,” said hospital President Jessica Macalino in a Nov. 14 Zoom call with The Smithfield Times.

The Times will be meeting with Riverside officials quarterly to provide updates on the hospital’s construction.

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Macalino said the work is currently focused on the hospital’s foundation, which remains on track The installation of stormwater infrastructure and curb-and-gutter concrete work will begin later this month and continue into early 2024.

“We’re doing a lot of under-slab prep work,” Macalino said.

By February, she expects workers to begin erecting the three-story hospital’s steel framework.

Due to the hospital’s 200,000-square-foot size, construction “will occur in quadrants,” Macalino said.

Riverside Health Systems held the hospital’s groundbreaking ceremony in July. By October, the hospital’s footprint had been cut into the soil and several trailers and temporary utilities for construction workers were in place.

According to a Riverside news release, last month’s focus was on slowly building up, and then compressing, layers of dirt to reach a specified height, and testing the soil to ensure it has the proper density to support the building’s weight.

“There will be a lot of soil moving around in the next couple of months,” said architect and senior project manager Russell Parrish in the news release. “It’s not glamorous work, but it’s very important.”

Macalino told the Times that she expects shallow foundation work to occur in mid-December and slab-on-grade pouring of the hospital’s concrete foundation to be completed across all quadrants by April.


Will there be an uptick in traffic?

Many of the larger temporary vehicles associated with the project, such as bulldozers and trailers for construction workers, are already on site. As such, “we’re not expecting a lot of disruption,” Macalino said.

Any traffic congestion due to construction traffic will likely be concentrated in the early morning hours when workers arrive and again in the evening when workers leave for the day.

In the next few weeks, workers will erect what Macalino described as a “windscreen” to further shield the site from view. This type of fencing will include panels with information on the hospital project.


What about the medical office building?

At the July groundbreaking, Riverside announced that former Smithfield Foods Chairman Joseph Luter III and his wife, Karin, had made a contribution to the Riverside Foundation for the construction of a detached medical office building that will be located adjacent to the hospital on the nearly 30-acre campus. At the Luters’ request, the detached facility will be named the Jamison-Longford Medical Building in honor of Dr. Bernard Jamison and the late Dr. Desmond Longford, two longtime Smithfield physicians who helped establish the Western Tidewater Free Clinic in 2006.

According to Macalino, designs for the one-story building are complete and under review by Isle of Wight County staff. Riverside is hoping to break ground on the 27,000-square-foot building by February or March.

Construction is expected to last 12 months. The building is slated to open in early 2025, roughly a year ahead of the hospital.

The building will house outpatient physical therapy and specialist services such as gastroenterology, orthopedics, urology and cardiology, Macalino said.


When will hiring start?

Macalino expects to hire 150 to 200 employees across clinical and non-clinical roles beginning in the spring. All positions should be filled by the fourth quarter of 2025.

“We are excited to be able to offer these employment opportunities to local residents,” Macalino said.

Riverside, she said, plans to hold job fairs in the community to recruit local residents, though no dates have been announced.

“We’re looking forward to continuing progress and opening in early 2026,” Macalino said.