Architects told to draw detailed hospital plans
Architects were given the go-ahead Wednesday evening to proceed with more detailed plans and cost analysis for Harrison County Hospital to build “for the next 50 years,” just as the hospital’s promotional signs proclaim.
The Harrison County Hospital directors, by consensus, gave the OK to the partnership of Laughlin Millea Architecture LLC and Walker Architects Inc. of New Albany and construction cost consultant James L. Shireman Inc. of Corydon. Preliminary plans will be refined for the facility, expected to cost in the $30 million range for building, land and other related expenses.
“We’re in dire need of expanding,” said HCH executive director Steve Taylor.
The present facility has just under 90,000 square feet; under the current preliminary plan, the new hospital would have 150,000 square feet. “At this point, based on five-year projections, we believe that would be more than enough.
“When it’s all said and done, we think we need somewhere between 125,000 to 130,000,” Taylor said.
Based on preliminary plans, the new facility would cost about $160 per square foot, compared to a national average of $150 to $200, Mark Shireman told the board.
“It’s not extravagant; it’s not like that Taj Mahal job,” Shireman said, with a low chuckle and obvious reference to complaints about the 1996 Harrison County Justice Center in Corydon.
The present hospital in south Corydon opened 50 years ago. It has been added on to, renovated, remodeled and/or updated eight times since, and has now run out of room on the 11 acres it owns off Atwood Drive. Upgrading the aging building’s infrastructure and making other improvements to bolster hospital services would cost nearly as much, according to estimates.
The hospital has added 20 services since 1988, created more than 100 new full-time jobs with an average wage of $35,000 during the past decade, and has operated without tax revenue in all but about one of those years. The hospital has invested $20 million in technology and facilities the past 15 years without tax support, according to Taylor.
The hospital’s option to purchase about 34 acres along Interstate 64 for a new hospital and medical office building (to be financed privately by the doctors) expires in mid-June, but Taylor said the option is renewable.
The site, just off I-64 and west of Homestead Manor, between the Corydon-Ramsey Road and S.R. 337, has a host of neighbors concerned that the facility would bring with it the dangers of increased traffic to children playing in the area, noise from sirens and helicopter ambulances, and would decrease land values.
Taylor said the hospital plans to meet with those neighbors later this month, to answer to those concerns, but the date hasn’t been finalized.
The hospital, which is county-owned and not-for-profit, is seeking a bond issue to finance the project and has asked the Harrison County Board of Commissioners to approve the financing.
One option the hospital board has suggested is to make the payments with riverboat revenue for the first 10 years. That would require $1.5 million a year to be approved by the county council at the request of the commissioners, but no action has been taken.
Both the commissioners and council have expressed concern that the amount of riverboat revenue could drop and the expense would fall to property tax payers, in an average amount of $50 a year. The matter has been taken under advisement.
The hospital, which contributes to the local economy with a $12 million annual payroll and $25 million in expenses, would match the funding with hospital revenue.
Hospital administrators, most doctors and staff members prefer to keep the hospital under local control to be responsive to the needs of Harrison County rather than enter into any partnership with a larger, out-of-county hospital to build the facility.
Taylor announced to the board Wednesday night that the affiliation with Norton Hospitals Inc is now official. The agreement, signed May 1, is effective for a year and automatically renewable, but it can be dissolved by either party in writing with 30 days’ notice.
In return for $2,000 monthly payments, Norton has agreed to provide services or access to Norton personnel for specific purposes, nursing consulting services, clinical education programs for HCH employees and medical staff, and research, planning and marketing services.
The agreement also allows the use of Norton’s name for image purposes, Taylor said.
Norton’s services replace those formerly provided by Alliant, a subsidiary of Norton.
Both Taylor and Jeff Davis, chief financial officer for HCH, are no longer paid through Alliant, but are county employees of the hospital.