HCMH announces plans for $36 million in renovations, new construction

From Staff Reports

Sept 26, 2007 - Hopkins County Memorial Hospital is going to get bigger and better over the next two years, the medical center's leaders said today.

Much bigger.

At a press conference this morning at the hospital, plans were announced to renovate 40,000 square feet of existing space at HCMH and adding another 27,959 square feet of new construction.

The plans include a new emergency department and a new patient care addition. Estimated cost of the project is pegged at just over $36 million.

"We felt it was absolutely necessary to updgrade our plant," Hopkins County Memorial Hospital Chief Executive Officer Michael McAndrew said today.

HCMH administrators and directors don't believe there will be a need for any tax increases or bond referendums to pay for the project, either.

"This is not something that will obligate the taxpayers," McAndrew said. "We don't foresee having to raise taxes to pay for this."

There are a number of ways to finance the plans, he said, such as a simple bank loan or a revenue bond handled by a local financial institution.

"The one thing we know is that we can pay for it," he added. "We just haven't selected the financial vehicle."

The decision came in large part because of a need for a new emergency department, identified as an ever-increasingly important "window to the hospital." The current emergency department is overcrowded — it was built to accomodate 8,000 visits per year but is expected to exceed 16,000 this year. Longer wait times, consequently, have meant an increase in patient dissatisfaction.

But during planning for a new emergency section, it became clear that there were other issues facing the 40-year-old hospital building.

A facility master plan identified significant work that needed to be done on the building, including replacement of worn out mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems that either weren't functioning well, not energy efficient or had reached the end of their useful life.

There is also a need for new window systems, a new roof and cooling equipment to improvement the indoor environment. Administrators noted, for example, there have been complaints for two years about the inability to keep the third floor of the hospital cool.

More private rooms were also identified as an important need. Single-patient rooms not only are more satisfactory for patients and their families, they also can help reduce the risk of hospital-acquired infections.

After reviewing the master plan, the hospital's board of directors determined that a new patient care addition, as well as mechanical, electrical and plumbing improvements, should be undertaken at the same time as the new emergency department, thus avoiding "rising construction costs that continue to climb at an accelerated rate."

The project will result in  a much larger emergency department and all private rooms. All current patient rooms and support areas on the second and third floor will be gutted and remodeled.

"Taking into account the relatively new Women's Pavilion, ICU and OR, the net effect will essentially be a new facility that should serve the community well for years to come," HCMH leaders stated in a press release.

The plans have gone through design development, and construction documents are expected to be ready by February, with the contractor at risk going out for bids soon after. A groundbreaking ceremony could be held as early as March. Construction is expected to take a little over two years barring any unforeseen difficulties.

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