by Richard Uhlhorn
The Lake Chelan Community Hospital board of commissioners will reconvene in special session this Monday afternoon, October 12 to continue its discussion on potential approval of the Design Team’s new 52,420 sq. ft. footprint for the new hospital.
At last Friday’s commission meeting for the purpose of approving the footprint so the design team could begin go to work on completing construction drawings for permitting for a March 2021 construction start, the discussion fell apart when commissioner Jordana LaPorte complained that the full board had not received the new changes until 10:30 a.m. that morning. “We had a different design two days ago,” said LaPorte.
Commissioner Mary Murphy brought up the budget which is now over the $44.5 million and is pegged at $45,859,548. In addition, Murphy remarked that the Hospital Foundation has been given an office in the new building and while she likes the work the Foundation does for the hospital, she said, “There is no clinical reason to be there.”
Murphy added that her concern is over the financial recovery mode. “We need to be more realistic than optimistic.” LaPorte also stated that the EMS department needs be somewhere along with the business office.
CEO George Rohrich stated that all that was being asked of the board was approval to move to completing construction documents. “I need a formal motion,” said Rohrich. “That’s all I’m asking.”
Commissioner Mary Signorelli stated that the board needs to stay on target for permitting.
LaPorte replied that the new budget had not gone to the Finance Committee and that “prudently, we’ve got some tightening up to do. We are underfunded and over budget.”
Murphy said they needed some more time to study the new plan. LaPorte added the numbers have changed once again and she was against the proposed motion.
Chairman Phyllis Gleasman asked Dick Bratton how not passing a motion would affect the timeline? He replied that the team was faced with a crunch to submit permit documents to the USDA and other agencies. The timeline ends on January 31 before new regulations go into effect on February 1, 2021. “If we get approval to move forward we only have two months with holidays to deal with. We essentially have only a couple of mopnths to get it packaged up. It’s very sensitive. It is a challenge for us all.”
LaPorte said the board has yet to see the September financials and with out additional financial information she was not willing to pass a motion. Gleasman then asked Commissioner Fred Miller to weigh in. Miller said he felt it was ok to continue moving forward because the hospital’s future finances are not cut and dried. “It will be many months… there is too much uncertainty. Let’s move forward and approve the footprint with budget decisions later.”
Murphy said that receiving the new information 1.5 hours before the meeting was unacceptable and said it was not possible “for me to proceed.” LaPorte added that the project is over budget and the intent was to build the new hospital for $44.5 million, not $45.8 million.
The new (10 days on board) Chief Financial Officer Tom Moore said, “I’m less concerned about the budget, but am more concerned about the debt service.”
Murphy asked if it would be possible to postpone the vote until Monday afternoon’s meeting on the 12th. Jamey Barlet, Collins Woerman, stated that would be perfect.
The commission’s meeting will begin at 4 p.m. with an executive session and then reconvene to discuss moving forward with project at around 5 p.m. The public is invited to join the meeting on Zoom.