COLUMBUS, Neb. -- U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer (R-NE) visited Columbus Community Hospital Wednesday morning. 

Fischer said that she came to Columbus on July 6 because she wanted to be able to spend some time in the community. 

"It's been a great tour here at the hospital," Fischer said. "We've spent a lot of time with members of the leadership team and with some of the board members, and had a tour of the facility."

Fischer said that she thinks it's important that she continues to be out and about in the state of Nebraska to see what's happening and to hear from Nebraskans. 

On the tour, Fischer said, while she was touring, a baby was born and they were able to see the baby in the nursery. 

 "I think that's a really positive sign for the community," Fischer said. "I think it reflects a growth that we see here in the community of Columbus, and so that was pretty cool to be able to greet a new citizen of Columbus." 

Fischer went on to say that it was fabulous to see the staff that works at CCH and to meet many long-time members of the staff. 

"[I] met a nurse who's been here over 40 years," Fischer said. "That's, again, another positive sign. It shows the commitment of the staff to the community, and it's also impressive to see the facility itself - the rooms, operating room, the OB floor - to be able to see that."

Fischer also mentioned that she was able to see the new physical therapy area and the daycare center that allows staff to have their kids on the hospital campus. 

CEO and President of CCH Michael Hansen said, "One of the reasons Sen. Fischer was here was to show her kind of what we've done since the last time she visited."

Hansen said that they had a $35 million expansion they showed her - a childcare center, a wellness center, a new emergency department, and numerous practices that they have acquired over the years. 

"Childcare has been a big issue in our community for a long, long time," Hansen said. "So, we went to our board and asked to build a childcare center."

Hansen said they built the childcare center a few years back, which allows for 105 kids to be cared for while their parents are at work.

It is a big retention and recruitment tool, said Hansen. 

"The nurses love having their kids close by. They can check on them during breaks and lunch and things like that," Hansen said. 

Hansen said the wellness center was added in 2015 as a part of the wellness initiative. 

"Our goal is to obviously to improve the health and wellness of our community," Hansen said. "By having the wellness center, people can be active, especially during the winter time."

Hansen said The Field House will be an expansion of the wellness center. 

According to Hansen, CCH has the new project underway. The Field House project, a $55 million project, will be built directly north of the wellness center. 

This project was approved in December of 2019 but was put to a halt when COVID-19 hit. The project was reopened in 2021, and is projected to be done by the end of 2023 or the beginning of 2024. 

"We've done a lot of the dirt work, civil engineering, and now we are getting structural steel on site," Hansen said. "And, it will be built by the end of '23 maybe early '24.'

Hansen said it will be a 250,000 sq. ft. facility that will allow for many activities that can continue during the winter time - a full-size soccer and football field, a quarter-mile walking track on the second level, two additional basketball courts to the wellness center courts, two tennis courts, two racketball courts, pitching and batting cages, an E-sports area, and three different areas for kids of different age groups. All of these additions are for the hospital as well as the community.