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Community leaders say expanding Houston Healthcare will benefit patients and Robins Air Force Base.

The Warner Robins hospital opened an expansion to the surgery center Tuesday.

Registered Nurse at Houston Healthcare Marilee Templeton likes the new operating room. She said, "This is huge compared to what we had before."

She says the new operating rooms, in an expansion that doubled the size of the wing, improve patient care.

They offer technology, such as UV lights in the ceiling that kill bacteria, reducing the risk of infection. The lights operate when the rooms are not in-use.

Templeton said, "It's a very clean and sterile environment for the patient."

Hospital CEO Cary Martin says high quality care matters to everyone, including the Air Force.

Martin said, "The availability and access to care is huge in any BRAC alignment. We work very closely with Robins."

Lt. General Bruce Litchfield noticed the improvements, attending Tuesday's ribbon-cutting ceremony. Litchfield is the Commander of the Air Force Sustainment Center at Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma. That's the organization that oversees Robins.

Litchfield said, "The people readiness has a lot to do with the care and treatment they get. This is just an indication of how important you think the military members are in the community."

The improvements at the hospital will continue. The second phase of construction, renovating the old operating rooms, starts next week.

The first surgery in the new center is scheduled for next Monday.

The second phase of construction should be finished in about two years. Martin said the total cost for the project will be about $41 million.

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