The aim of the Wallowa County Health Care District board of directors, if they do decide to go ahead with the project, is to finance a new hospital without asking for any additional money from taxpayers. Wallowa Memorial Hospital CEO Larry Davy thinks a $10 million hospital can be funded by the district's bottom line income, grants, donations, loans and from the Critical Access designation which the hospital qualified for last year. Davy thinks that Critical Access will finance 50 to 60 percent of a new facility.

At the Health Care board's Monday morning meeting the board authorized Davy to seek out financial and overall feasibility studies for the proposed project, and to send in a pre-application form to the United States Department of Agriculture. The USDA would guarantee a loan.

Davy's research shows that the timeline from the beginning of architectural plans to when construction would be completed to amount to 27 months.

Once the feasibility studies are completed and a formal application to the USDA is submitted, the board will decide whether or not it wishes to commit to the project.

The board is still looking at possible options on where to site the proposed facility. Davy said they have found "no serious solutions" to that problem.

In other business Monday morning the board agreed to extend its contract with their supplier of a dimension chemistry analyzer for five years. In return the company agrees to upgrade the machine, thereby increasing the speed and number of tests the hospital laboratory can run.

Financial consultant Mark Bandy informed the board that the district had a positive bottom line in January. The district's days of operating cash is up to 58 days, the highest it has yet been, according to Davy.

As a followup to the board's annual Strategic Planning meeting Feb. 14, the board adopted updated by-laws for the board of directors to follow and adopted a new strategic plan.

Local electrician John Hillock was present to encourage the board, if they do go ahead with the construction of a new hospital, to keep the maximum amount of work contracted at the local level. It was noted that any local bid made within 5 percent of the low bid can be legally granted a contract for general or sub contracting purposes.

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