New hospital target price: $18 million

If The Memorial Hospital can find a firm to build a new hospital for $18 million, construction of a new building can be pursued without asking Moffat County residents for a tax increase, said TMH Administrator Randy Phelps.

At Wednesday night's TMH Board of Trustees meeting, a presentation was given on the preliminary budget plans for the construction of a new building.

"We were able to demonstrate the hospital can do debt service of $15 million for construction," Phelps said. "Then add what we can do with the foundation and we can fund an $18 million hospital without tax support."

A hospital non-profit foundation has been created to seek funds for a new hospital through grants, endowments and fund-raising.

By establishing its own non-profit foundation, the hospital has more freedom to seek funding to improve hospital facilities and equipment, said TMH Community Relations Director Pam Thompson.

"Basically it's been created to help fund a new hospital through community support," Thompson said.

The goal set for the foundation is to raise $3 million for a new hospital.

Now that the $18 million price has been set, TMH officials will begin looking for construction firms that can build a new hospital for that price.

"This opens the door for discussions with firms that could build the hospital with a price target of $18 million," Phelps said. "Our timeline now is still focused on breaking ground next spring. We're taking one step at a time."

Last fall TMH projected that the cost for a new hospital would be about $24 million.

"I don't know yet if we can do a worthwhile project for $18 million," Phelps said.

Compromises might have to be made like not including a basement, which had been included in the original plans.

Phelps said the goal is to meet the target price without jeopardizing the quality of the hospital needed in Moffat County.

"We have to be mindful of that," he said. "We don't know the answer until we know what that maximum price will allow in the construction process."

Phelps said constructions firms would be contacted through the month of May.

If TMH cannot find a firm to build a hospital for $18 million, and tax dollars are needed, the decision on whether or not to build a new hospital will go to the community.

"If we had to have a referendum to raise taxes to support construction it would require a vote of the people," Phelps said. "We have until the end of July to make that decision or else it will have to wait another year. Right now we're focused on trying to get what we need for $18 million."

Phelps said the $18 million price tag includes construction of the building and architectual fees plus any new equipment that would need to be purchased in the move.

"There are a few pieces that would make more sense to purchase new than move," he said.

But the bottom line, Phelps said, is that TMH needs a new building.

"People have to realize if we're going to continue what we're doing now we need a new building," he said.

A few additional features the new hospital will have include:

X-ray operations all based in one room.

An integrated ambulatory surgery program.

Private rooms.

The hospital has already purchased land around the current facility so a new building could be constructed on that site to accommodate the needs specified in the original plans.

The TMH board of trustees also approved the appointments of foundation steering committee members Wednesday night.

The TMH board of trustees also approved the appointments of foundation steering committee members Wednesday night.

They will include:

Jack Bonaker board liaison

Bill Lawrence

Marianna Raftopoulos

Betsy Peck

Tom Hakert

Clay Trevenen

Vicki Gutiereez

Dr. David James

Bonnie Hampton

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