New KDMC sign to show way to community care

Published 6:00 am Monday, January 21, 2008

While King’s Daughters Medical Center is always hard at workacquiring new technologies to use inside the hospital, it now hasan impressive gadget to display outside.

Installation of a state-of-the-art LED (light-emitting diode)sign was completed Friday night after the hospital’s old sign atthe main entrance on Biglane Drive off Hwy. 51 was taken down. Thenew high-quality graphic display is part of KDMC’s new marker, adouble-faced, internally illuminated welcome sign that measures21.5 feet tall by 10 feet wide.

While the new welcome sign is worlds apart from its weatheredpredecessor, the smaller LED display is the real show-stopper.Measuring approximately 5 feet tall by 7 feet wide and costingabout $100,000, the LED sign is the first such major sign of itskind in Lincoln County. It was assembled and installed by HeadrickSigns and Graphics, Inc., a nationwide company with offices inLaurel, which also installed a similar sign at Easthaven BaptistChurch.

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“The hospital thought it was a good project because we needed anew sign,” said JoAnna Sproles, KDMC’s spokeswoman. “The old signwas faded from years out in the weather, and it was too small.You’d be surprised how many people miss the sign and miss the turnat the main entrance.”

Sproles said the hospital auxiliary and the King’s DaughtersFoundation wanted to purchase the LED sign as a tool forcommunicating with the community.

Three KDMC divisions came together to finance it. The hospitalitself paid $60,000, the foundation put forth $30,000 and the final$10,000 was produced by the auxiliary volunteers.

“The sign will be used as a community bulletin board to conveymessages about KDMC classes, support groups, programs and healthservices,” she said.

For example, Sproles said, the sign could be used to inform thecommunity about a new physician who has joined the hospital’s staffand the services he or she brings.

“It really gives us a unique capability to recognize and promotepositive news and events around the hospital,” Sproles said.

KDMC Chief Development Officer Johnny Rainer, whose department,along with marketing, will operate the sign via wireless connectionthrough a laptop computer, said he was excited about the sign’spotential.

“It has a lot of capabilities,” he said. “And great quality …You can run just text, kind of like a marquee, and you can runstill images, photos and all kinds of graphics. Anything from a DVDcan be displayed on the sign, even video. It really has somecapabilities that we may not even use.”

KDMC will forgo some of the LED sign’s capabilities, not forlack of innovation, but per agreement with the city ofBrookhaven.

Since the size of the hospital’s new business sign, LED displayincluded, exceeds the city’s size limitation of 150 square feet,KDMC had to seek a variance in order to install it. The variance,with a few stipulations attached, was awarded in a meeting with theBoard of Adjustments in September.

“We currently have no regulations governing LED screens becausewe’ve never had one in Brookhaven before,” said Building InspectorChip Gennaro. “But we were concerned about the distractions itmight cause to drivers, as far as them looking at movies that mayrun on it and not watching where they’re driving on Hwy. 51.”

To gain the variance, KDMC agreed not to display movies on theLED sign, only text and still photographs. The photographs must bedisplayed for at least 12 seconds before changing.

“It has to remain on the screen for 12 seconds, that way it’snot flashing real fast like a movie,” Gennaro said.

The new sign is now in place and welded into its final position,but will not be activated until after Jan. 26.

KDMC officials will not run electricity to the sign until laterthis week. William Guy, an employee with Headrick Signs andGraphics, Inc., will return to Brookhaven Saturday to install thesoftware that controls the LED display through a wirelessconnection.