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December 27, 2010 7:01 pm

Hospital building plan sought

Written by Ilene Olson

After tabling proposals from three architect firms for updating a master facilities plan last summer, the Powell Hospital District board voted last week to seek new proposals.

The board decided in August to wait until a new chief executive officer was onboard before selecting a firm to update Powell Valley Healthcare’s master building plan. Members felt the new hospital’s new leader might want a say in what went into the plan and how to proceed with it.

But Paul Cardwell didn’t fill the position last month as expected. Another CEO isn’t likely to step in until March at the earliest, and the board decided it could wait no longer.

The board — with three members about to leave office next month — voted unanimously Dec. 20 to request new or updated proposals for the building plan. Those submitted previously were good for only 60 days.

Robin Roling, interim chief executive officer, said the objective of updating the master building plan is looking for ways to work on small building projects without interfering with future building plans.

Roling noted Wednesday that the master building plan calls for moving the emergency room to the back of the hospital, then expanding the operating facilities into the area now occupied by the emergency room.

But those projects are expensive, and money isn’t available to do them all at once, she said.

“We can’t pull off a multi-million dollar project now, but we can do smaller (projects) in the intervening period to help us accommodate space needs, but stay within the main plan,” she said.

One priority, Roling told the board, is finishing the basement in the new clinic building so it can be used for business office space. That will free up needed space in medical office buildings for use by physicians.

She said $500,000 was set aside in the budget for that project.

Roling said the plan update would help answer important questions and move building projects forward.

“We’ve got competing interests,” she said. “The ER and the OR both want their areas completed first. The plan would provide an objective, outside point of view.”

Some board members wondered if they still shouldn’t wait until a new chief executive officer arrives.

Board President Brent Foulger, who leaves the board next month, said no building projects can begin until the plan is completed.

“That all hinges on getting the master facilities plan ready to go,” he said.

Trustee Larry Parker said work on the plan should begin now and not wait for a new chief executive officer. When the new CEO arrives, he or she still will have a say in how building projects proceed.

“We’re not painting ourselves into a corner with this,” he said.

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