When opportunity knocks
CCMSD to move ahead to secure stimulus money for new hospital
April 23, 2020
After taking a few days to think about it, the Board of Trustees has decided to offer support to the efforts of Senator Ogden Driskill and Representative Tyler Lindholm to secure a new hospital for Crook County Medical Services District.
The proposal, if successful, would see the two legislators request around $50 million of the $1.2 billion heading Wyoming’s way through the federal CARES Act. This would be used to fully fund a new hospital building, which would need to be completed on an expedited schedule.
Not quite as expedited as had previously been thought, however. When Driskill and Lindholm presented their idea to the board last week, it was believed that any stimulus money related to the COVID-19 pandemic would need to be spent by the end of the year.
However, said Driskill at a special meeting of the board last week, it transpires that the money just has to be appropriated or obligated by the end of the year, rather than spent. The board had expressed concerns about the expedited timeline and how little control that might give them over the finished product.
“It buys that longer window that you were thinking you may need,” Driskill told the board.
At the special meeting, by request of chairman Mark Erickson, representatives from Treanor HL Architects of Denver gave a presentation of estimates as to how long the construction would take and how much it would cost. The figures presented were, of course, extremely preliminary.
Their recommendation was for a design-build schedule that establishes a guaranteed maximum price, which would effectively allocate the funds and lock in the total cost. Control of the funding would remain with the board of trustees.
Based on a quick study of needs – such as for clinical care spaces and support, public areas and admin – the architects suggested the hospital could come in at around 70,000 square feet including the long term care and could cost just under $53 million. Representatives pointed out that this estimate was intentionally high and the total could be lower.
Trustee Sandy Neiman asked if this would be a problem, as the two legislators had originally suggested looking for funding at around $40 million. This figure was not locked in, said Driskill, and will ultimately based on how much is needed to build the facility Crook County needs.
“There’s $1.2 billion and I’m not going to tell you to be silly, but more than about money it’s about how we justify the projects and make sure they’re done responsibly,” replied Driskill.
The justification for this project, he continued, is that Crook County’s facility is not modern enough to handle a pandemic like COVID-19. Building a new hospital would prepare the county for a similar crisis in the future.
Driskill requested that the board write a letter of support for the two legislators to take with them to Cheyenne when they lobby to secure the funding. The letter should include an explanation of why the county needs a new facility, as well as of how it will be supported once it is built in terms of upkeep and staffing.
The board agreed to write this letter and have it with Driskill and Lindholm by the beginning of next week at the latest. Driskill confirmed that the duo will also be asking for funding for a new Hulett clinic as a separate project.