FRONT ROYAL – Perched on a hillside overlooking the valley, Valley Health’s newest hospital is coming together beam by beam.

On Thursday, more than a hundred community leaders and health care professionals gathered at the new hospital site to celebrate the topping off of what, in early 2021, will be the entrance to a state-of-the-art facility that Floyd Heater, president of Warren Memorial Hospital, said he hopes is more than a hospital but a health and wellness destination.

From the tent where Heater and other leading members of the project addressed the crowd, the skeleton of a towering three-story hospital could be seen. The faint sound of welding drifted down while Heater reminded everyone of the work that has gone into erecting the 177,000-square-foot space.

“Working with our community partners, we are building more than a hospital,” Heater said. “We are building a health and wellness destination site for the community.”

Thursday’s ceremony was not a cap on the $100 million project. The beam that visitors will walk under but will be hidden from sight was laid out for community members to sign. While their signatures would be invisible, Heater said, the people present on Thursday and the employees who signed earlier in the week were what made the project possible.

The sprawling facility that will include 36 private inpatient rooms, 18 emergency department rooms, six observation rooms and three operating rooms, in addition to dozens of medical offices and a handful of labs, offers what Robert Meltvedt, vice president of medical affairs, said might be Valley Health’s best hospital yet.

Despite its impressive laundry list of rooms and “great toys,” Meltvedt said he believed that hospitals shouldn’t be judged based on square footage but rather on the impact they have on the community.

“If you measure hospitals by these new measures,” he said, “I really do think this might be the best hospital Valley Health has.”

Valley Health and Warren Memorial Hospital are committed to pushing into the future of health care, he said.

“Almost all of the procedures I do in the [operating room] today, I did not learn in residency,” Meltvedt said. “Almost all of them I’ve learned since then. That’s how much it’s changed.”

Mark Merrill, president and CEO of Valley Health, said the new hospital marks a new chapter in Valley Health’s story and provided the organization with a new vision statement to inspire hope and promote health as the community’s first, best choice for quality, safe care.”

– Contact Max Thornberry at