Hospital plans revisted

Without new taxes, board must consider partial replacement, new location

The latest figures for the estimated cost of a replacement hospital confirm that only a pared-down version of an off-site facility is fundable without new taxes.

The Memorial Hospital's Board of Trustees commissioned the updated report in April. Chairwoman Sue Lyster said that because a full replacement hospital looked to be outside the hospital's financial reach, the board decided to look at the feasibility of building a partial replacement hospital at a location other than Russell Street.

While TMH could afford the partial replacement at Russell Street, the scenario is riddled with logistical obstacles, including reluctance of the Craig City Council to close the street without a citywide vote.

The latest report proposes two plans. Both are site neutral, meaning they could be applied to any one of the proposed locations for a new hospital, Hospital Administrator Randy Phelps said.

And both plans are based on a paradigm in which only certain functions of the hospital would be built anew, while others would be reused in the existing facility.

The first option is a plan roughly the same size as the partial reuse program that was unveiled late last summer. It calls for a 52,000 square-foot facility, which is about 20,000 square-feet smaller than the full hospital plan. Phelps said he has not had time to review the plan in detail, but he assumes it does not contain the same list of features as the previous partial replacement plan, which strictly looked at a co-located partial reuse facility.

"The former scenario made it more feasible not to have to duplicate things in the new facility," Phelps said.

"The new project almost certainly contains deductions from the previous plan," Phelps said, because the net square-footage is roughly the same.

The price tag for the newest partial replacement option is about $21.5 million, Phelps said.

While it's less expensive than the $28 million plan for a full-replacement hospital, the figure is over TMH's head by a couple of million dollars, Phelps said.

The latest report offers a second option, which should be fundable but would mean a reduction in services. That plan calls for a 40,685-square-foot facility with some functions remaining at the current building. Phelps said that plan would cost about $18 million.

"The implication of that plan would result in services not being provided that we currently do," Phelps said.

Also, TMH would face difficulty coordinating a hospital at two campuses, Phelps said. In both of the new plans, administrative offices, laundry services and other functions would remain at Russell Street.

"We would be trucking laundry and supplies to the new site," Phelps said.

He said it could work but called the idea "somewhat dysfunctional."

The board planned to meet early next week with the project manager, Hammes Company, to discuss the latest cost reports. But Phelps said that meeting will be postponed until the following week.

Phelps said the report will add to the body of information board members will use to decide on a location.

"At least this gives us the information we need to make a decision going forward."

Jeremy Browning can be reached at 824-7031 or jbrowning@craigdailypress.com.

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