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LibbyMt.com > News > November 2010 > Spring starting date planned for new hospital construction

New Libby hospital. Photo by Kootenai Valley Record.
New Libby hospital
Recently updated plans show the proposed design of Libbyís new hospital.

Kootenai Valley Record. Photo by Kootenai Valley Record.
Kootenai Valley Record
Spring starting date planned for new hospital construction
by Kootenai Valley Record
November 6, 2010

Construction could begin as early as next April on St. Johnís Lutheran Hospitalís new building project, according to hospital chief executive officer Bill Patten.

Patten said he hopes to have construction documents for the project ready by January and to put the project out for bids in February or March. If the weather cooperates and construction begins on schedule, St. Johnís could be in the new facility by October 2012, Patten said.

The total cost of the project is budgeted at around $35 million. While the bulk of that will be financed, the hospitalís foundation board and capital campaign committee were tasked in early 2009 with raising $1.5 million to help with the down payment and recently hit the $1 million mark.

"We have been raising funds through individual donors and fundraising events," said Lora Ercanbrack, vice president of the foundation and co-chairman of the capital campaign committee. "Our groups feel that this is our opportunity to do something for our communities that is so far beyond any other fundraising effort that we have done before. Itís a once in a lifetime chance to leave our personal legacies and secure quality local health care for generations. We are so pleased with the results that we have had so far, and canít thank the communities of Libby and Troy, as well as our out of area donors, enough for all the support."

The campaign has been shaping up nicely, said foundation director KC Hoyer.

"We definitely have the support of our staff and our community," Hoyer said. "We have 80 percent of our employees engaged in giving, and the community support speaks for itself. Pledging out over a three- to five-year period has definitely helped folks make substantial gifts and given them the opportunity to have their names honored in the new facility. We even have a number of local churches collectively giving to have their congregations recognized in the chapel."

To finance the project, the hospital is looking at a combination of a direct loan from the U.S. Department of Agricultureís Rural Development Program and a bank loan that would be guaranteed by USDA. Patten said heís been talking with local banks about the possibility of a $15 million loan.

"That would be a win for the local banking community," he said.

The current rate on a loan from USDA is 3.75 percent, Patten said. During planning of the project, a rate of 5 percent had been assumed.

The design of the new facility has evolved with community and staff input. Artistís renderings of both the exterior and interior have been put on display in the hospital lobby, and some subtle changes have been made based on comments that have been received, Patten said.

"All of the comments that we have received have been very positive," he said. "People really think the design team hit a home run as far as colors that would complement the community."

The exterior is planned to feature a combination of HardiePlank siding and stone from a local quarry Ė "11,000 square feet of this stuff," Patten said. "Thatís going to be a huge order."

A siding color will be selected to complement the color of the stone that is ultimately chosen Patten said.

The new facility, which will be about half again the size of the current building but with the same number of beds, will be located between Second and Third streets east of Libby Care Center. The new building is being designed to provide more usable space for modern medical practices that didnít exist when the current building was built.

Concerns about the current hospital range from outdated surgery suites to cramped patient rooms with shared toilet facilities. The facility dates to 1952 with expansions and remodeling in 1983, 2002, and 2006.

Editor's Note: See the November 2, 2010 edition of the Kootenai Valley Record for the printed version of this story. The Kootenai Valley Record publishes once a week, on Tuesdays, in Libby, Montana. They are a locally owned community newspaper, located at 403 Mineral Avenue in Libby. For in-county and out-of-county subscription information, call 406-293-2424, or e-mail kvrecord@gmail.com.

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