Hospital plans to expand, add patient beds
County OKs $81 million project
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
St. Mary’s Hospital will be celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2012 and by that time, another expansion and renovation should be finished.
The hospital recently wrapped up a $6.5 million expansion for the emergency room and imaging department. It is now planning a three-story tower to make room for many more patient beds.
That would add 117,830 square feet of new space, and another 64,760 square feet would be renovated. An annex building will be used as swing space during the work, which should begin next summer.
The St. Mary’s County commissioners agreed Tuesday to endorse the hospital’s plan to borrow $75 million in bonds to help finance the $81 million project.
While the county’s population grew by 12 percent from 2000 to 2005, the hospital saw a 30 percent increase in business. ‘‘You can appreciate why we find ourselves out of room,” said Christine Wray, president of the hospital.
According to state projections, St. Mary’s Hospital should have between 134 and 145 surgical beds by 2016. It currently has 95.
‘‘In our business, you have to look out 10 years at least,” said Jim Delligatti, chairman of the board of trustees.
Some parts of the building haven’t been expanded since it opened in its current location in 1984 – the kitchen, laundry and lab, Wray said.
While it is an expensive project, the continued growth of patients and services at the hospital will make it possible, Wray said.
‘‘Regardless of where the economy goes, the hospital will always be needed,” said Commissioner Larry Jarboe (R). ‘‘A hospital’s a good long-term investment.”
The hospital’s current long-term debt is $26 million and when the financing for this expansion goes through, it will be $112 million in 2010. Debt payments are currently between $4 million and $5 million, Wray said, and will go up to $9 million by 2013.