The plan is for Wallowa Memorial Hospital to move into a new building in the fall of 2006.

With final finance approval from the United States Department of Agriculture pending, the Wallowa County Health Care District is already well invested in what is now looking to be a $16 to $17 million project that three separate feasibility studies have concurred can be financed without any new taxes to county residents.

Wallowa Memorial Hospital CEO Larry Davy said that schematics for the proposed new facility will be finalized with Clark Kjos Architects of Portland this week. He also said that the Enterprise Planning Commission has given its approval for engineers to begin design work for the new access road off of Flora Street into the new facility. Once the hospital has paid to build the new street with bike paths, sidewalks and space for snow removal, the hospital will deed the street over to the City of Enterprise.

The hospital plans to construct the road from Flora Street to a right-of-way to the west of the facility. Davy said that the City of Enterprise is working on a grant to extend the road from the right-of-way to Golf Course Road. With a cul de sac designed for the front of the hospital, Davy does not anticipate the new road being connected to Golf Course Road until 2008.

There is a federal mandate that critical access hospitals have no more than 25 beds and the new hospital will duplicate the old in offering that maximum of 25 beds. Unlike the current hospital, where all rooms with the exception of obstetrics are designed for double occupancy, the new hospital is designed with 19 single occupancy rooms. "We hit 19 patients twice this year," Davy said. "So 99 percent of the time in the new hospital patients will have a private room."

Land being studied

Within the past two weeks a large number of test holes have been dug at the new hospital site on hay ground west of Les Schwab Tires in the northern limits of the city. Ninety-two test holes were dug all over the 16.1 acres of property to determine that there were no points of archeological significance. From Aug. 24 to 26 many deeper holes were dug to test geotechnical soils and seismic analysis. Davy expects to receive the results on that $36,000 study in the next week or two.

Davy hopes to begin five weeks of road work Sept. 21, weather permitting, and he projects beginning construction efforts to commence in May 2005. Work on the estimated 40,000 square foot building should last from 12 to 15 months, Davy said.

When talk about constructing a new hospital was first voiced, costs were estimated to be in the $13 million range. "But the costs of steel, supplies and petroleum have all gone up," Davy said. "The longer you take the more it goes up."

For two days last week Davy, Director of Nursing Gail Johnson, Maintenance Supervisor Dan McCarthy and Financial Officer Randal Anderson visited new Clark Kjos-designed hospitals in Silverton, with 48 beds, and Bandon, with 24 beds. Davy was encouraged by the fact that the two-year-old Bandon hospital, like that proposed for Wallowa Memorial, has been financed at no additional cost to the taxpayers.

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