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Hospital considers minimum repairs, renovation or replacement of facility
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ELLINWOOD — The Ellinwood District Hospital is holding a series of community meetings seeking input into options for renovating or replacing the hospital and clinic. They are also asking the community if they want to leave things as they are and do nothing.

The board plans to hold 3-4 community meetings with the dates to be announced and board members are willing to attend club meetings. "We want to get the community involved and see what their wants and needs are," said Joyce Schulte, administrator and CEO of EDH. "None of this is a done deal."

The hospital board discussed the issue at their regular monthly meeting on Monday. The current hospital is 60 years old and has exceeded its life expectancy, according to the board. There is no storm shelter or safe area for tornado evacuation, the bathrooms are not ADA accessible, and the rooms are not of adequate size to house modern patient equipment.

In addition, the hospital was designed for inpatient services, and medical care has evolved to provide most care on an outpatient basis. There is no storage, and the location of the emergency room from the nurses station limits visibility.

Also, mechanical systems are out-of-date with limited crawl space for repairs. There are no individual temperature controls in the rooms.

The alternatives include:

•Doing nothing. The current boiler must be replaced and some other codes need to be met. The cost would be over $2,500,000. The facility would remain inefficient and continues to deteriorate. According to the board, Ellinwood could lose the hospital in 5-10 years.

•Renovate the existing facility. The cost completed in phases is estimated at $9,000,000. A new clinic is part of this plan as well as some new outpatient and inpatient areas. Some disruption of services are possible.

•Replacement of facility. The replacement cost on existing property is $10,500,000. This would be located on the north side of the current hospital. It would allow for future expansion and the clinic is attached. It is more energy efficient and there will be no disruption of services.

Schulte said that the board began strategic planning on this issue 14 months ago and initial architectural plans are available for study.

The hospital employs more than 70 people and has seen an increase of usage of outpatient services.

The board does not plan to raise taxes for any of the options. The improvements would be funded through USDA loans, tax credits, donations and possibly