New hospital price tag is $42.6 million |

New hospital price tag is $42.6 million

Plan calls for 84,875 square-foot facility

Joshua Roberts

— The Memorial Hospital board approved Wednesday night a master plan for a proposed new facility that encompasses 84,875 square feet and would cost an estimated $42.6 million.

“It’s kind of the sticker shock you get when looking at a new car when you’ve had a used car for 25 years,” said Steve Grode, vice president of American Health Facilities Development, a Brentwood, Tenn., company that formulated the new facility plan.

“It’s a lot of money, but it isn’t going to be any cheaper tomorrow,” he added.

The new hospital would take an estimated 18 to 24 months to complete.

It would include, among other features, 25 acute beds, 15 medical/surgery rooms, a 10-room emergency department, four postpartum/gynecology rooms, three operating rooms, two labor/delivery rooms and expanded laboratory, diagnostic and imaging services.

The new facility would provide TMH with about 9,000 square feet more space than the current hospital, which entails about 76,000 square feet.

“The space you’re adding is in these clinical areas, and that’s where you need it,” said Grode, citing more square footage in the new facility for emergency, imaging, laboratory and operating rooms.

George Rohrich, TMH chief executive officer, said the plan presented Wednesday night originally entailed a 100,000-square-foot facility, but hospital officials had pared it down to “what was most appropriate and most reasonable.”

Grode said the master plan has no frills.

“We didn’t design a Cadillac,” he said. “This is a basic Chevy sedan with four doors. : This is trying to be good value.”

Still, the $42.6 million price tag comes at a cost more than TMH can afford on its own. The hospital board said it will ask local voters in the November general election for a 3-mill tax package that would provide the additional money to pay for the project.

Hospital officials said the 3-mill package would translate into voters paying no more than $1.5 million per year for 25 years. More specifically, hospital officials said the owner of a $145, 579 home – the area’s average home value – would pay an additional $34.76 per year with an approved mill levy.

The hospital board also approved Wednesday hiring the architectural firm, Earl Swensson Associates, of Nashville, Tenn., to design the new hospital. The board agreed to the firm’s fee of 6.9 percent of the hospital’s construction cost, an estimated $27.3 million.

The TMH building committee recommended Earl Swensson Associates after hearing a presentation Aug. 23. Building committee chairwoman Corrie Ponikvar said the firm was selected from a group of three finalists for the project.

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