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Samaritan Healthcare commissioners reaffirm commitment to new hospital project


MOSES LAKE — Samaritan Healthcare commissioners released a statement Friday affirming their commitment to building a new Samaritan Hospital.

“We are committed to finding a solution to building the new hospital as planned,” according to the statement.

Commissioners approved the construction of a new 50-bed hospital in October 2018, with design work taking up most of 2019. The project was almost ready to be advertised for bid when the COVID-19 pandemic shut it down.

The new hospital was the subject of an extensive discussion at the July 26 commission meeting, with commission members ultimately turning down a “guaranteed maximum price” proposal. The GMP was about $31 million more than the available funding.

Joe Kunkel, the consultant on the project, said during the July 26 meeting that the design team had found ways to cut costs, but that rising costs for construction and materials had wiped out the savings.

The hospital district received a $136 million loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 2021, with $96 million of it at 2.25% interest rate.

“Our USDA funding must be used now, because the doors of our new hospital have to be open before September 2026 or we will lose this once in a lifetime funding,” the press release said.

Population growth in the hospital district means the project would not qualify for the loan program in the future, the release said.

Commissioner Dale Paris wrote in the press release that the challenges facing Samaritan are

common among hospitals – and common among all businesses currently.

“From the increased cost of labor due to staffing shortages and supply chain issues, to the surging costs of materials and supplies – all are affected,” Paris wrote. “While our costs have increased significantly, our reimbursement from insurance companies and other payors has not increased. Some hospital reimbursement has not increased for many years.”

Hospital officials are working on securing additional funding, including a federal appropriation for the Women and Infants Service Initiative, which could generate up to $2.5 million, the press release said. The Samaritan Healthcare Foundation has raised about $1.3 million for the project, with the goal of raising $2.5 million.

“In the coming weeks we will continue to provide updates for our community as we continue to move our new hospital forward,” the press release said.

Cheryl Schweizer can be reached via email at education@columbiabasinherald.com.



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