Skip Section Navigation


Published on December 23, 2015

St. Vincent’s Clay tops off new addition

By Mike Ford, Clay Today

St. Vincent’s Medical Center Clay County is one step closer to doubling its size with the recent topping off ceremony for its new J. Wayne and Delores Barr Weaver Women and Infants Pavilion.

Blain Claypool, president of Acute Care for St. Vincent’s HealthCare, hosted the Dec. 18 ceremony for the three-floor patient tower that will be built so it can be expanded to five floors in the future. The exterior is now up and the rest will move rapidly.

“It’s tremendous work to clear the ground and lay the foundation. You have to pour the concrete and let it cure while they’re building the rest off-site. Then, they bring it all in and put it together like an erecter set with all the beams and walls, Claypool said.

“Once they start putting it all together, the project goes pretty fast. We’re now five months away from the emergency room expansion, which will open in May, and eight months from opening the tower in August.”

With funding from private donations and the parent entity, Ascension Health, the $33.1 million expansion is expected to bring 120 to 130 new jobs to Clay County. Claypool said the minimum “socially-just” wage of all Ascension hospitals is $11 per hour, but many of the new local positions will pay much more.

“These are high-paying jobs – they average $50,000 a year and we’re seeing new businesses pop up around us as the First Coast Expressway goes in immediately adjacent to our campus. There will be 10,000 new homes built along the beltway in the next 10 years and those families will have healthcare right in their back yard,” Claypool said.

As a county resident who is raising his children here and educating them in the county school district, Claypool stresses that the not-for-profit ministry of St. Vincent’s is a stakeholder in the county’s economic development. He said the hospital is also looking for 15 to 20 private practice physicians for another building the hospital is planning for its Clay campus just off Branan Field Road.

“We’re moving forward with our second medical office building – we’re out seeking tenants and once we sign leases to the point of being two-thirds full, that will trigger the beginning of construction,” Claypool said.

With that expansion next on the horizon, the new tower now dawning will expand the emergency department and give the hospital something it has never had before – birthing services.

The expansion will include a birthing center named after major donors, J. Wayne and Delores Barr Weaver, which will be located inside the tower. It will feature eight suites for labor, delivery, recovery and post-partum treatment, two Cesarean section suites and four post-partum suites. There will also be childbirth education, sibling classes and safe sitter training to teach pre-teens and teenagers how to safely care for infants and other children.

The rest of the expansion will include 30 inpatient beds, 13 treatment rooms in the emergency department and capacity for 30 additional beds in the future.

The topping off or topping out ceremony is one rich in history and culture dating back to an ancient Scandinavian religious rite in which a tree was placed atop a new building to appease the tree-dwelling spirits that had been displaced during construction. Long considered an important component of timber frame building, the custom migrated initially to England and Northern Europe and on to the Americas. A tree or leafy branch is usually placed on the topmost beam in celebration of this point in construction.

When it was completed in the fall of 2013, St. Vincent’s Medical Center Clay County was the county’s largest commercial construction project with a price tag of $110 million.

View the story