Limited hospital services?

A pared-down hospital renovation could mean sacrifices

In the latest revision of The Memorial Hospital's plans to construct a new hospital, there isn't room for services such as obstetrics.

There isn't room for nuclear medicine. There are fewer emergency room beds.

The space allocation has been pared down to such a level that even the architectural consultant commented on it.

"As we get away from this (Russell Street) location, because of the reuse potential of some of the elements of this building, we would have to make painful choices in terms of services," said Don Finlayson, president of Architectural Nexus, the project architect. "The most troubling thing for me is OB. It's very hard for me to imagine you abandoning that mission,"

Ron Danner, chairman of the board's building committee, agreed that difficult decisions would have to be made if the board opted for a facility spanning only about 40,000 square feet.

The latest proposal takes its place in a long list of possibilities for a replacement hospital. It is almost half the size of the 72,000 square-foot facility that was drawn up late last summer. The price tag for that plan is in the upper $20 million range. The latest revision would cost about $18 million.

Financial consultants have estimated that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which could guarantee the bonds that would pay for the hospital, might authorize an $18 million facility, but not much more.

TMH's Board of Trustees met with two representatives from Nexus and three consultants from Hammes Company, the project manager. Trustees posed numerous questions to their consultants. They asked how the construction would affect the productivity of the hospital if the new building were built at Russell Street. They asked about rerouting utilities and if there would be sufficient gas pressure and water pressure at the current site. They discussed the rising costs of construction, because of the spike in steel prices this spring.

Danner said the evening was another data-gathering exercise, aimed to nail down all the questions and caveats that accompany the new hospital discussion. Sue Lyster, the board's chairwoman, said trustees want to have all the facts and figures straight before they enter the planned meeting with the Moffat County Board of Commissioners and the Craig City Council. The date for the meeting hasn't been set, but Lyster said she wants to be able to present a side-by-side comparison of all the construction options when the governing bodies convene. Lyster said she hopes officials can come to an agreement about what is the best option.

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

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