Schneck Medical Center’s history has broken ground on the Seymour-based health care system’s largest expansion in its 107-year history.

The ceremony took place near the future site of a $44 million project that includes a five-story, 80,000-square-foot medical building and a five-level parking garage that will add more than 400 parking spaces to the main campus at 411 W. Tipton St. in Seymour.

“This works toward our goal of providing the best care for our communities and now the best facilities to help us accomplish that mission,” Warren Forgey, president and chief executive officer, said following the groundbreaking.

Construction for the medical building is slated to begin in early February, Forgey said.

Rick Smith, president of the Schneck board of trustees, described the moment as historic for Schneck and the community.

“This expansion will strengthen our ability to meet the needs of our community, our patients and will enhance the overall patient experience,” Smith said.

The project is funded by the hospital’s ability to set aside funds following its last expansion in 2009, which constructed the Don and Dana Myers Cancer Center and five-story south wing, Forgey said.

He said Schneck planned for that facility to meet the needs over the next 15 years, but the hospital now is in position for additional growth.

“Additional facilities are now necessary in order to improve access to health care services as we focus on improving the health of our communities,” he said.

The expansion will bring 29 additional physicians and their support staff. Those physicians will mainly focus on family practice and general surgeons, he said, which will improve access to care.

The need for improving access to care was discovered following the completion of a community health assessment in 2015, which indicated the public’s desire for more options.

“Our patients want greater access to medical care, more local options for local health care providers and convenient access to all those we serve,” he said.

Schneck has nine facilities in four counties, and its main campus has 94 patient suites. For all Schneck locations, more than 150,000 patient visits were recorded. The hospital employs more than 1,000 and has a staff of 140 physicians.

The parking garage will offer 384 spaces, and there will be additional staff parking created near the garage for an overall increase of 427 spaces. It will become the first parking garage in Seymour.

Schneck’s primary service areas are in Jackson, Jennings, Scott and Washington counties.