Cloud County Health Center Announces Plans to Build a $40.35 Million Hospital Requiring No Local Tax Support

Cloud County Health Center Announces Plans to Build a $40.35 Million Hospital Requiring No Local Tax Support

Cloud County Health Center along with support from Salina Regional Health Center announced plans to build a new, $40.35 million hospital along College Drive in Concordia.

During a public presentation Monday, July 15th at the Broadway Plaza in downtown Concordia, Cloud County Health Center Administrator David Garnas made the commitment to not seek local tax support for the construction of a new health care facility, continuing to be one of the few hospitals in the state of Kansas that does not receive tax support.

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Cloud County Health Center Board Chairman Phil Gilliland told KNCK News keeping a hospital construction project off the local tax rolls has been a major emphasis of the board.

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Cloud County Health Center has engaged with Dougherty Mortgage, LLC, one of the industry’s top providers of conventional and affordable multifamily financing that delivers a wide spectrum of capital financing solutions for acute care hospitals and health care providers nationwide.  Together, they've begun preliminary discussions with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) regarding a loan application for a program that develops essential community facilities in rural areas to construct, purchase equipment and pay related project expenses for a new health care facility in Concordia.

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Garnas said they hope to have a final answer from USDA about approval of their loan application in December 2019.

Over the next six months, Cloud County Health Center will issue a request for proposal for a Construction Manager at Risk (CMAR), which would provide professional services and act as a consultant to the hospital in the design development and construction phases.  Garnas estimates it would take eight months to design a space that works best for their patients, staff, and community, projected to begin after the first of the year, with a groundbreaking on a new space anticipated for no later than early-2021.

Three years ago, in May 2016, the Cloud County Health Center officially began a clinical and operational affiliation with Salina Regional Health Center to better serve their patients and communities.  Gilliland told KNCK News Monday the affiliation with Salina Regional Health Center has been key to the entire process of building a new health care facility in Concordia.

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On Wednesday, July 17th, Garnas, and Gilliland will approach the Concordia City Commission for an option to secure a tract of land north of Walmart on College Drive for a new, single-story 74,000-square foot facility with a basement.  This land is currently owned by the City of Concordia and all utilities are currently on-site.

Garnas said the site allows for current needs and is accommodating to future expansion, has high visibility from US Highway 81, and is easily accessible to the community, Cloud County Community College students and visitors.

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Master Site and Facility Plan
In May 2019, Cloud County Health Center publicly released the findings in its Master Site and Facility Plan.  The plan concluded that the hospital would be better served by a new appropriately sized and planned facility on an adjacent or new site.

According to the Master Site and Facility Plan, the findings of the review team do not support the continued use of the hospital building for acute care nor for outpatient care functions.  The existing multi-story configuration of the building, estranged departmental relationships as well as site slope elements have constrained the staff, patients, and visitors for multiple years.

Three different site locations were considered in this process, including building a new hospital on their current property at Highland Drive.  The site does have open acreage that could be utilized as a possible replacement building location, but the proximity of this open land to existing residential properties is a poor adjacency mix.

During their existing site analysis, they determined the current site is located far from what is considered prime public access.  The primary vehicular traffic access to the hospital is via West 11 Street, which also bisects with the Concordia City Park and Concordia Junior/Senior High School.   All traffic, including ambulances and other emergency vehicles, is slowed to a school zone speed.  Additionally, student pedestrian cross-traffic creates additional safety issues on a regular basis for all traffic to the hospital.

The current Cloud County Health Center will be 70-years old next year.  According to the plan, limited ceiling heights, narrow room bays, undersized toilets, and aged mechanical systems coupled with the extreme departmental separations form a strong basis for new construction.  While some observed limitations and difficulties noted can be addressed, achieving a usable and maintainable building for the next 70-years will not be cost-effective through renovation.

Many hours were spent evaluating the existing building.  Each room and department of the hospital was evaluated and designated an individual rating from "Good," "Fair," or "Poor."  Also, all mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems were evaluated and graded according to the same scale.

The age and configuration of the existing facility are below current standards and the quality of the patient experience in the current facility is compromised by these factors.  Patient Privacy issues are at very high risk and pose a real danger to the hospital now and in the future in the current building.  The engineering systems need significant upgrades or replacement, which render continued use or expansion of the existing facility questionable relative to the benefits.

Additions to the existing building would require new plant support features which currently do not exist in capacities nor in locations desired.

Given the report findings in all the different departments, Garnas told KNCK News the timeframes to renovate the existing building would exceed three years and cost more than new construction.  He said this cost statement factors in the business interruption costs, as well as the construction cost on the existing building.

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Providing a Road Map for Facility Planning
The Master Site and Facility Plan was the direct result of several months of work sessions.

Garnas, the former CEO at the Sedgwick County (Colorado) Health Center, said discussions about examining their facilities began shortly after he joined the Cloud County Health Center in April 2018. 

In December 2018, the Cloud County Health Center, in conjunction with Salina Regional Health Center, embarked on a four-month Master Site and Facility Plan process to evaluate their current market position and to match the hospital's strategic goals with its facility needs over the next 10 to 20 years and beyond.  

TreanorHL, an architectural design, planning, interior design, historic preservation, civil engineering, and landscape architecture firm, prepared the plan along with Brack & Associates Consulting Engineers, P.A., and Cumming Corporation.  The plan was developed to improve the efficiency of the patient path through the hospital, improve the quality of the patient experience, and create a quality work environment that supports medical staff, employee and volunteer recruitment and retention that balances with available resources.

The Master Site and Facility Plan kicked-off with the first set of meetings the week of December 17, 2018, focusing specifically on data gathering, including interviews with physicians and staff to understand departmental needs.

The next step in January 2019 involved departments throughout the hospital, the Cloud County Health Center Board of Trustees, and members of the community providing valuable input as to future facility needs in order to enhance their ability to provide excellent local access to care well into the future.  A department-by-department assessment was completed, including existing square footages.  Architectural systems were evaluated and documented, along with information on mechanical, plumbing and electrical systems.  

Then in March 2019, participating stakeholders reviewed preliminary designs for a healthcare project, including site and building schematic plans.

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Gilliland said a culture of transparency in this process was essential in improving trust, creating greater accountability and higher quality of work, and providing everyone with access to the information needed to move forward.

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Modern Medical Facility Tops Community Priority List
Talk of a new medical facility in Concordia has been in play for more than a decade.

In November 2008, voters in Cloud County overwhelmingly voted no to a bond issue of $28.9 million in order to pay the costs to acquire a site in Concordia and construct, furnish and equip a new Cloud County Health Center.  During a special election in February 2013, voters again defeated a proposal to build a new hospital, this time to be built adjacent to Blosser Municipal Airport in Concordia, with construction of the hospital paid for through a combination of philanthropic gifts and bond financing, repaid by revenue generated by the new hospital and through the issuance of a countywide .75% sales tax increase.

Last fall, CloudCorp sent an email asking local entities to come together to support projects prioritized by the community.  The local governmental entities, taxing bodies and boards throughout Cloud County identified a new, modern medical facility as the top overall priority project for the community.

According to information provided to KNCK News by CloudCorp, the cities of Concordia, Clyde, and Miltonvale, along with Cloud County, USD 333 Concordia, Cloud County Community College, the Community Foundation for Cloud County and the Concordia Chamber of Commerce all shared with CloudCorp their top three priorities for the community. A new, modern medical facility made it onto seven of the eight priority lists and was found to be the top overall priority project for five of the responding groups.

Garnas said he wants to make Cloud County Health Center the hospital for all of Cloud County.

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Garnas also asked community members to consider making a voluntary contribution to the Cloud County Health Center building project by helping them raise funds for the new facility through hosting a fundraiser, committing to a contribution or providing other forms of assistance.

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As the facility planning progresses, there will be opportunities for naming rights with larger contributions.  Opportunities will be available in early-2020.