HASTINGS, NE — With the stroke of a pen - actually, lots of pens - the new medical office building at Mary Lanning Healthcare is one step closer to completion.

On Thursday, staff at the Hastings-based hospital along with donors and construction partners signed the final steel beam for the skeleton of the structure. It’s a major milestone for a project that COO Mark Callahan says started as an idea nearly nine years ago.

“You know what, I think this is finally going to happen. I think it’s reality now," Callahan said. "I think it’s finally sunk in, I think once we get that last beam and the frame is up, it’s going to be like, ‘let’s get it done.’”

The new structure is a 64,000 square-foot addition to the existing Medical Services Building. Some of the hospital’s specialty clinics, which are currently spread across town, will be housed on the first floor along with a new pharmacy. Mary Lanning’s large family practice group will occupy the second floor.

“Patients can come here now, they don’t have to drive across town to see a physician and then come here for tests," Callahan said. "It’s just going to be better overall care.”

The third floor is what gets Callahan most excited. It will host the new Bryan College of Health Sciences nursing program. Students will spend one year at Hastings College, then three years at the Bryan facility, with the hope that graduates will stay and work in the area.

“It’s going to help Hastings College as far as recruiting students, it’s going to help us for nursing and other physicians and other smaller hospitals in this area as well. Nursing is really tight right now,” Callahan said.

Funding for the $25 million medical office building is already secured. Callahan says the building will be ready for the nursing school to open in fall of 2023.