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UHD building plans progressing

By Staff | Nov 10, 2008

Plans for a multi-million dollar hospital expansion and renovation in Blue Earth and a new adolescent treatment center in Winnebago are progressing to the next two phases.

United Hospital District boardmembers approved hiring HGA for schematic design and design development and United Builders in Blue Earth to serve as construction manager for the projects.

“Now the real work begins. We have two very exciting projects on the docket for the area communities,” says Jeff Lang, UHD administrator.

Lang recommended the board retain services of the two firms because both worked on the hospital’s last two expansion projects.

HGA will provide architectural services for $1.294 million and United Builders will be paid $652,550.

“They understand our process and have a familiarity with our buildings, people, systems and goals,” says Lang.

Cost of adding 44,000 square feet at the hospital site is estimated at $15 million and would include moving United Hospital – Clinics from the Ag Center to that campus. If rental space for dental and eye clinics and a pharmacy are not included in the final design, that would reduce the square footage by about 6,000 and save about $2.5 million.

The price tag for the new treatment center in Winnebago — which would increase from 14,000 square feet to nearly 19,500 square feet — is expected to be about $4 million.

The board also decided to sell three houses UHD owns to make room for the hospital expansion.

The homes would be listed for $5,000, $10,000 and $15,000 and would have to be relocated by the buyers. The project also calls for taking down the Blue Earth Medical Center.

Lang says if everything goes as planned, bids for the projects will be awarded late next summer and work could begin in the fall.

“Both projects would be going on at the same time. But, the treatment center would get a six to 12 week head start,” adds Lang.Boardchairman Dennis Zitnak says a project committee needs to be formed to keep the public updated on the projects.

“We need to let people know what’s going on and getting them involved,” adds Zitnak.

In the next month one public meeting will be held in Blue Earth and two others will be held elsewhere in the county.

Lang says dialogue with the public may identify goals UHD officials could have missed.

“We want to ensure that the project we are doing today will serve our patients well into the future, 15 years from now,” he says. “We want feedback. It’s not only the needs of the hospital but what the needs of our patients are.”

Lang says UHD is trying to build “a cutting edge” facility in Winnebago that could meet future needs. He says they have been in contact with city officials to discuss the project.

“We have two sites that would work, but we are focusing on one site now,” says Lang. “We’re getting to the point where we are going to talk specifics and they are waiting for that to happen.”