Families of patients at the Wyoming Medical Center a year from now will have a new home away from home where they can stay, at little cost, near their loved ones who are being treated at the hospital.

"Today, we were breaking ground for our brand new Masterson Place building, which is our hospitality home," said Wyoming Medical Center Foundation director Caryn Dowell.

"We've been working on raising $4.8 million dollars for this project, and we're very close to completing that amount raised," Dowell said. "And so today we're here to get the building started."

On Monday, officials with the nonprofit Wyoming Medical Center, Inc., the Medical Center Foundation, other charities and the city put their shoes to gold-painted shovels to throw some dirt to mark the beginning of the construction.

The target date for completion is June 20, 2019.

The groundbreaking marked the culmination of several years of work, Dowell said.

The new two-story building, which is across the street from the hospital, will have a lobby with a fireplace, 14 guest rooms, and laundry facilities, Dowell said.

The original proposal was for a three-story building costing $7.3 million, but the Foundation scaled it back, she said.

Courtesy, Wyoming Medical Center
The original three-story design for Masterson Place.        Courtesy, Wyoming Medical Center

The Wyoming Medical Center itself will operate the building, including covering the difference between the $45 a night charge with the actual cost of the room, she added.

Thousands of people related to patients use it during the year, with a couple of patients who became well-known to the public during their extended stays at the hospital.

Bradie Gray of Australia, and a student at Odessa (Texas) College, was critically injured in a bull-riding accident at the College National Finals Rodeo in June 2017. He was hospitalized for three weeks and released.

Another was Casper Police Officer Jacob Carlson, who was gravely injured during an officer-related shooting in May. Carlson left the hospital a month later.

This will replace the current Masterson Place on East Yellowstone Highway that has been in use since 2001, Dowell said.

That building, a former motel, probably will be sold soon, she said. The Wyoming Medical Center will cover the costs of families of patients at local hotels who would otherwise stay at the old Masterson Place from the time it closes until the new one opens in June.

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