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On Monday, April 11, the Lemhi County Commissioners went through the formalities of amending the Steele Memorial Hospital budget to reflect the planned 17,000 square foot medical office building which will cost approximately $7 million.

Interim hospital Chief Executive Officer Abner King and Chief Financial Officer Jim Peterson along with Hospital Board Chairman Dennis Lile and board member Kristen Troy brought a display of conceptual designs to show what the new building will look like.

King said the reason for the expansion is the demand for outpatient specialty services. Last year the number of specialty visits totaled 2,173 and according to King they simply don’t have the room in the present facility to accommodate the specialists and patients. He said the addition will free the existing clinic for the specialty services

The 17,000 square feet will house 21 exam rooms, two procedure rooms for greater provider proficiency, a large 2,000 square foot conference center which will also be available for community needs, office space and the space needed for family practice primary care providers including the two newly hired providers who will arrive in September.

In addition to amending the hospital budget the purpose of Monday’s visit was a request for the county to approve a resolution to enter into a Revenue Lease Agreement for $6.3 million. King said the hospital is contributing about $515,000. He said the remaining County Bond Construction Fund money will be zeroed out and transferred into the new project. The combined total of hospital and county contribution will be around $700,000 leaving the amount borrowed at $6.3 million. The commissioners voted to approve the Revenue Lease Agreement Resolution and also waived the building permit fee.

King said projections show that with the constant cost increases in medical supplies and equipment, in five years it would be impossible to meet bottom line expenses without the expansion of specialty services.

When asked for a breakdown of expenses King said the facility itself will cost just over $5 million. Peterson said the equipment and furnishings will cost between five and six hundred thousand dollars. Estimated staff additions in the next five years will include three physicians, three physician assistants and an increase in the registration staff. Peterson said it will be around nine new people plus, as more specialty services come in, there may be a need for more specialty assistants.

As far as a time-frame King said construction will begin April 18 and an official ground breaking ceremony will take place in May. They expect the building to be ‘weather proof’ by this September with actual occupancy by February 2017. He said so far about 15 local subcontractors are involved in the project.

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