Article Courtesy of Brownfield News
Recognizing that Brownfield Regional Medical Center supports one of the largest payrolls in Terry County, the board of directors of the Brownfield Industrial Development Corp. expressed its support Monday for the hospital’s effort to build a new facility in the city.
The BIDCorp. board informally instructed executive director David Partlow to pen a letter of support for their signatures at its next meeting.
“The hospital is very important to the growth of our city,” Partlow told the board. “It is a valuable economic engine that is vital to recruiting businesses to the community. It also supports more than 200 good paying jobs on its own. That is a huge deal.”
The hospital’s annual payroll and benefits total more than $10 million with an additional $3 million per year of uncompensated services.
The board heard a lengthy presentation by hospital CEO Mike Click about the condition of the current facility and the plans for a new one.
Click told the board that he understands the expenses involved, but believes Brownfield needs the project to remain vibrant.
“One thing we have always strived for is providing the services needed here,” he said.
He told the BIDCorp. board that repairing the current hospital would require that the entire building be brought up to modern medical building codes, which would be more costly and disruptive than building new.
“We have done our due diligence and looked at every angle,” he said. “We feel this is the best option for the community.”
Board member Mike Swaringen asked “if we don’t use all of the current hospital, why do we need to build a bigger one?”
Click said that information is a common misconception and assured the board that every space in the current building is occupied, including some former patient rooms that now serve as office space for as many as five employees.
As far as the larger square footage of the planned building — from 83,000 to just over 100,000 sq feet — Click said the plans call for fewer rooms, but state and federal regulations require they be larger to facilitate any medical equipment necessary and also to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
The fate of the ambulance service also was discussed.
The EMS currently is housed in a ready-built home and three-bay garage on the hospital campus, but the new plans don’t include facilities for the ambulance service, funded jointly by the hospital, city and county.
Click said plans are underway to convert the former police department into the new EMS headquarters.
“There is plenty of garage space and the bays are big enough for what we need,” he said. “We could easily retrofit the inside of the building for living quarters and rec space. That location is also centrally located for the population and we feel like it would be a great fit.”
Tony Isaacs, leading the New Hospital PAC to support the bond proposal, told the board this is an opportunity for Brownfield to move forward.
“I think it’s a project we should get behind,” he said.
BIDCorp. board chairman Alan Bayer said he thinks a letter of support for the project would be prudent for his board and added, “I feel like we need a new hospital and it sounds like an awful lot of money, but it’s been a long time since we did this and things just cost more these days.”
Judy Besler, the newest member of the board, said the presentation convinced her it’s the right thing to do and helped prepare her to answer questions in the community.
“I agree it’s something our community needs,” she said. “If we can lend our support then I’m fine with that.”
Board member Randy Anthony said continual maintenance on the current structure is not sufficient.
“You can’t just keep putting patches on it,” he said.
Bayer concurred, adding “repair costs would probably end up being twice what new construction would be. Every time you tear into a wall to fix one problem, you’re going to find three more.”
Partlow said he would write the letter of support and work to spread the word that BIDCorp. is behind the bond proposal.