When finished, our McMurry West Tower and MRI building will have more than 3 miles of copper electrical wire laid within the walls. That’s enough to stretch from Wyoming Medical Center to the Casper Events Center.
The McMurry West Tower is set to open late this summer. It will provide 98,000 square feet for state-of-the-art medical care, 20 private surgical rooms and a new mother-baby unit with 12 private rooms.
As the weather turned colder this winter, workers for Haselden Caspar/ Pope JV moved inside to frame out the building’s interior with more than 11,000 steel studs. Crews have installed 5,000 batts of insulation and are now hanging the 4,300 sheets of drywall. Now, you can imagine the shape, layout and space the rooms will provide for patients and families. You can also see the outlines of our new main entrance, spacious dining area and the Cottage Gift Shop. The tower will also have space for a 7,000-square-foot Wellness Center.
Many more impressive numbers can be found inside the walls of our new tower, designed to create a better hospital experience for the thousands of Wyoming families who come to us each year. Here are a few:
2 air-handling units, each weighing 55,000 pounds, installed on the roof to ensure quick and efficient air ventilation
More than 100 windows framed and installed
15,000 cubic yards of soil removed for caissons and foundations
275 tons of rebar used
4,411 cubic yards of concrete poured
1,400 sheets of thermax sheathing installed
3,300 exterior steel studs installed
10,000 feet of 6-inch metal strap blocking used
240 sheets of ¾-inch fire treated plywood blocking used
More than 8,000 feet of ¾-inch metal electrical conduit laid
Susie McMurry met Angela under the worst of circumstances. A car crash killed Angela’s mother and her husband. One son was flown to Children’s Hospital in Denver, another suffered a severe head injury. Angela’s family had moved to the United States from Tokyo and she spoke little English.
Susie, a longtime volunteer at Wyoming Medical Center (WMC) and co-founder of the patient advocacy group Gentle Hands, helped find housing for Angela’s extended family. She met with Angela despite the language barrier and provided whatever small comfort she could through the long recovery. Above all, Susie gave her time, becoming a familiar face in an unfamiliar town.
“Angela was here for a very long time. I spent many many hours with her,” Susie said. “It was every bit as meaningful to me as it was to her.”
If there is a theme to Mick and Susie McMurrys’ philanthropy, it is this: The smallest kindness can have big impact. And it is up to us to build the community in which we want to live.
The McMurrys have a long relationship with WMC, beginning when each was born at Memorial Hospital of Natrona County in 1946, 10 months apart. It continues today with the couple’s recent donation to name the McMurry West Tower. Slated to open in 2014, the tower will add 98,000 square feet for state-of-the-art medical care, 30 new private patient rooms, a mother-baby unit and more.
Lending their support wasn’t a hard decision, Susie said: “If our citizens are healthy and they have access to great healthcare, then our community will be healthy.”
Both Susie and Mick grew up in families of modest means. Susie grew up in Elk Mountain and moved to Hannah in fourth grade. She studied elementary education at Casper College for two years before going to the University of Wyoming. She returned to Casper to teach first grade at Crest Hill Elementary.
Mick says he lucky because he’s never had to leave Casper – except for 19 months in the Army when he served in the 128th Assault Helicopter Company in Southeast Asia. He also studied two years at Casper College and two years at UW, but met Susie after college. They married in 1973.
Mick started a construction company and built roads across the state. They adopted their daughter, Trudi, and Susie retired from teaching in 1976.
In 1979, they became foster parents, caring for hundreds of children over almost three decades. They adopted their second daughter, Jillian, from the foster program and one of their six granddaughters, Alaceia (Lou) was one of their foster children before Trudi adopted her.
“I was gone the first 18 years of the marriage, building highways around Wyoming. Susie would usually have a few new children each week when I’d come home on the weekends. We did that for 27 years. We’ve never been without a car seat,” Mick said.
In 1990, the McMurrys sold the construction business and bought some oil and gas leases in Sublette County. That turned into the highly lucrative Jonah Field, a natural gas field that Mick describes as a great gift to Wyoming. With money from that endeavor, the couple founded the McMurry Foundation in 1998.
“We’ve had great mentors. We both grew up in modest beginnings, but our parents showed the value of giving back,” Susie said.
“And there were wonderful people in Casper who we’ve watched and been mentored by. I think that’s also our responsibility now: to be mentors to our children and our community.”
Building a healthy community
Thirty years ago, Susie started Gentle Hands with Gail Kennah and Ellie Ellbogen. The program offers non-medical support to patients and families, providing everything from plane tickets to clothes to neck pillows that make hospital beds more comfortable.
Susie spends hours every day walking the halls of WMC asking patients and families how she can help.
“Patients are usually most often well cared for because we have a great facility and we have great medical people overseeing patients,” she said. “Oftentimes, families are the ones who are left without support, especially people who are from out of town or who have a new diagnosis that they or their families are struggling with.”
In 2001, the McMurrys made their first major contribution to the healthcare community with the McMurry Medical Arts building, a partnership between local physicians to provide needed office space. They also donated to the remodel of WMC’s emergency room.
Susie is currently a member of the hospital foundation’s board and served nine years on the WMC board of directors before taking a two-year break. She rejoined the board this year.
Today, they support the West Tower and the future of healthcare for our community and state.
“I could see the benefits not only for our community but for ourselves and our family,” Susie said of the project.
“If we have great facilities that can accommodate all the wonderful health services that we have, that would accomplish a goal that both Mickey and I seek: To make a better Wyoming. And that’s extremely important for us because our children and grandchildren also live here. This is where we live. This is the place we love.”
Paying it forward
Through the McMurry Foundation, their personal donations and the time both give through volunteering, Mick and Susie are building a healthier more vibrant community.
They hope others will do whatever they can do, however big or small.
You never know what influence you have, Susie says. She meets people all the time who thank her for the smallest of gestures.
“Every single person in our community can do that. You don’t have to be giant. You just start little and it passes on, it passes through, it improves. There isn’t anyone who can’t contribute positively towards our hospital, towards our community,” she said.
“You start little and little turns into big.”
Support the West Tower
The McMurry West Tower will open in 2014, providing 98,000 square feet for state-of-the-art medical care. It includes a new front door and lobby with a curbside canopy for drop-offs and pick-ups, more than 30 new private patient rooms and a new mother-baby unit.
In October 2012, The Wyoming Medical Center Foundation kicked-off the McMurry West Tower Capital Campaign with a goal of raising $3 million. It has secured $2.1 million so far.
The campaign has several giving levels and naming opportunities, starting at $1,500, which can be pledged over five years. For questions, to make a donation or to get involved with the project, contact the foundation at 577-2973 or go to www.wyomingmedicalcenter.org/giving.
Click here to read more about what the McMurry West Tower will offer.