New Hospital still on track

New Hospital still on track

WM Planning Commission, Design & Review to see plans later this month

news@theeveningtimes.com

Plans for the new Baptist hospital are scheduled get a final review before the West Memphis Planning Commission and Design and Review Commission later this month.

Representatives from Baptist will appear before the Planning Commission on Jan. 25 followed by Design and Review on the 26th.

“They are within a week or two of going to West Memphis for a meeting with the planning commission and the design and review commission,” said County Judge Woody Wheeless. “They have to get approval for the way it is going to look.”

The project has appeared before both bodies before but still needed to make some modifications for wetlands mitigation in the plans.

Baptist Memorial Health Care and Crittenden County broke ground in September on a $25 million hospital in West Memphis.

The 50,000 square foot facility, which is expected to open in early-to-mid 2018, will have 20 beds and will include an emergency room, in-patient nursing care, outpatient surgery, radiology, diagnostic lab, and cancer treatment.

Officials project that 25,000 patients will use the ER.

The cost to build the hospital is being supported by a one cent sales tax which will generate $30 million over the next five years.

Crittenden County entered into an agreement on a 25 year lease with two fiveyear extensions. Baptist was responsible for purchasing the land and will lease it to the county for one dollar a year. Baptist will also have the option to buy the hospital building from the county after 10 years.

The county has been without a hospital since Crittenden Regional Hospital declared bankruptcy and closed in 2014.

Baptist is the largest health care provider in the mid- South with 17 hospitals in the region and over 200 beds.

Wheeless said although there hasn’t been any high profile site work done yet, a lot of work has been done behind-the-scenes to get the necessary construction contracts signed.

“The are a lot of things like getting the contracts done that the public doesn’t see,” Wheeless said. “For instance, we just sent out requests for qualifications for the medical equipment manager. That is the person who comes in and tells the hospital what they will need inside. And then we have to have everything signed and ready to bid it out as a whole project. But they are still committed to

the project to the very end.” Flintco Construction of Memphis is the construction

manager.

Wheeless said he wouldn’t be surprised to see dirt being turned by the end of the month.

“We’re real close,” Wheeless said. “I was told that there is a real possibility they may start before the month is over with.”

By Mark Randall

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