LOCAL NEWS

Hospital JPC Gives Governing Board Authority to Negotiate New Hospital Plan

By Kathleen Sloan

HERALD Reporter

Sierra Vista Hospital Joint Powers Commission held a special meeting on Wednesday, April 25.

The first order of business was an update on the Master Plan for the phased additions and demolitions to the current hospital.

Sierra County, as the fiscal agent for the hospital, put out a bid for master planning, which was awarded to NCA Architects of Albuquerque about two months ago, winning among a field of about five competitors. They will be paid, “Just under $50,000,” according to Governing Board Chair Barry Ragsdale, who was interviewed Thursday, May 3.

Lead architect Robert Calvani showed schematic drawings that work out “important adjacencies,” such as radiology located close to the emergency room.

Calvani said expansion will be to the north because the east side is “constricted and the site drops off on the west side.” He said the helipad will remain where it is.

Calvani said town hall meetings had been held, and more are to come. The next town hall is Wednesday, May 9, at 6 p.m., at the Sierra County Events Center. The JPC, Governing Board and public will meet jointly on Wednesday, May 16, at 4 p.m., also at the Sierra County Events Center.

Project Architect Lennard Davis said they are also interviewing hospital staff. Such input will help develop a hierarchy of needs. These, along with money availability, will determine the master plan’s phased construction with pricing estimates attached, said Calvani. Calvani’s rough estimate is “$20 million to $21 million” for the transforming the current hospital into administrative offices, a new hospital wing, new behavioral and physical health clinics.

A preliminary draft of the master plan will be complete for the May 16 meeting.

Calvani said the final draft would be complete May 26, but Ragdale, on Thursday, May 3, said they have extended that deadline because “certain parameters were loosened, changing work they’ve already done. We’ve asked them to send us a new schedule they think is fair.”

The second order of business was a brief look at the Emergency Room addition, presented by hospital Chief Executive Officer Domenica Rush. Rush said the current ER is 1,700 square feet, and the addition is 6,000 square feet. Studio Southwest won that bid, which will cost about $1.3 million total. It will be paid for in part with capital outlay money awarded in 2008 and 2009. Rush said in a prior meeting that the hospital will pay about $300,000 of the project.

Rush and Studio Southwest architects took a preliminary emergency room plan to State Architect Rita Meeks, who approved it. Rush said the final plan will need to be approved by Meeks, who is head of licensing.

After conferring with staff, Rush said the architects “moved some rooms around” in the ER plan.

The third order of business was clarification, established in an open meeting, of the JPC, giving the Governing Board authority to negotiate on their behalf. Ragsdale and Rush, perhaps recalling the Attorney General’s Office investigation into the now disbanded Steering Committee two years ago, asked for a specific motion and vote.

JPC member Alvin Campbell’s motion was: “We authorize the Governing Board to complete new hospital development plans, including all negotiations, provided that all financial negotiations be brought back to the JPC.”

That motion was adopted unanimously by the JPC.

Part of the flurry of activity on the master plan and emergency room expansion is due to a June 30 deadline to spend $770,000 of capital outlay funds. That is the amount that remains of 2008 capital outlay funds awarded by former Gov. Bill Richardson after current Gov. Susanna Martinez “reauthorized” $198,000 of those funds last month.

Ragsdale said a bid to do site prep work on the north end will be let next Thursday. The engineering estimate is $550,000 for leveling the land, transferring and compacting the dirt to form a new road on the north side, paving it with asphalt, and providing utilities, he said. The JPC will hold a special meeting to award the contract, said Ragsdale.

Payments to Studio Southwest and NCA Architects and emergency room equipment will expend the balance of the $770,000 by June 30, said Ragsdale.

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