A $285 million patient tower in the works at St. Jude Medical Center in Fullerton is slightly ahead of schedule for its opening in the fourth quarter of 2014.

Iron workers recently put final structural steel beams in place for the four-level structure, and the project is about a third of the way to completion, according to Orange-based St. Joseph Health.

The St. Jude project includes a new central utility plant, and a parking structure.

St. Joseph operates St. Jude along with St. Joseph Hospital-Orange and Mission Hospital, which has campuses in Mission Viejo and Laguna Beach. All three of the hospitals here rank among the county’s largest by net patient revenue.

St. Jude celebrated the topping out of the new tower with a steel beam that was signed by employees, donors, and members of the project team from McCarthy Building Cos. and architecture firm Taylor before being secured atop the 85-foot structure.

The project at St. Jude is one of several major hospital expansions ongoing in Orange County. Kaiser Permanente expects to open a $425 million hospital in Anaheim in September, and a new tower that’s the focal point of an expansion of Children’s Hospital of Orange County in Orange is expected to open next year.