PITTSFIELD — A $9.5 million expansion project at Sebasticook Valley Health hospital is helping some local construction companies to get through the long, cold winter season.

Hospital administrators said a major milestone for the project was achieved when the steel infrastructure of the new inpatient wing was completed.

“We were literally swinging steel through (superstorm) Sandy,” said Mike Peterson, the hospital’s chief administrative officer.

Peterson said the plan is that the building’s interior will be fully enclosed by the end of the year.

Interior work will continue through the winter for many area workers.

“Of the 22 subcontractors working on this for us, 19 come from Maine and a lot of those come from central Maine,” Peterson said.

Peterson said the project’s planners purposefully targeted Maine companies.

“We’re helping the economy,” he said.

Local firms working on the project include Zimba Drywall of Fairfield, Standard Waterproofing of Waterville and Overhead Door Co. of Augusta.

Much of the project is being overseen by Pittsfield-based Cianbro.

Chad Bailey, the project manager at Standard Waterproofing, said the waterproofing job is worth nearly $50,000, enough to keep four or five workers, about 25 percent of the company’s workforce, employed.

“This is hitting us during the wintertime, which is great,” he said.

The economic downturn of recent years has made every project important, he said.

“Every small job that we get helps,” he said.

Ryan Loubier, project manager for Zimba company, said the project means a lot to Zimba.

“For us to be able to work locally and keep a large crew going through the winter, it’s a big thing for us. This is going to carry our guys well into the winter. This could keep 15 to 20 guys working there just on that job,” he said.

The Pittsfield location is an added bonus.

“I’ve got a lot of employees in the central Maine area,” he said. “I’ve got guys traveling only 10 or 15 minutes to work for this job, instead of two hours.”

He said that the project also has a special meaning for some of the 15 to 20 employees who will work there.

“Some of them use this hospital,” he said. “They’re happy to be helping a place that helps them.”

Both Bailey and Loubier said that the current year has brought more business than last year and that they see the trend continuing.

For the hospital, the work will continue for about another year. Phase one, under way, is the construction of the new wing, which Peterson said is scheduled to house patients by June. Phase two is punching through the exterior wall of the inpatient area. That will happen between March and May. Phase three will be the renovation of the existing inpatient facilities and will continue into November.

With the major purchasing decision complete, Peterson said planners are deciding on details, such as television models, furniture fabric and wastebasket colors.

In March, before the room designs are finalized, a mockup of a patient room will be made out of Styrofoam so the details can be tinkered with in model form before they’re all set.

“We can look at the sightlines and say maybe this soap dispenser should be moved here or how close is the blood pressure cuff to the patient,” he said.

With a quarter of the project complete, Peterson said there have been no changes in the initial plans, which has helped to keep the project on schedule and on budget.

“We’ve been very disciplined with the planning,” he said.

Matt Hongoltz-Hetling — 861-9287
mhhetling@centralmaine.com