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The Daily



07-15-03: Repairs will cost $1 million
The Daily Standard

    COLDWATER - Repairs of the Community Medical Center building in Celina could top $1 million, the Mercer County Community Hospital board of governors learned during an emergency meeting Monday.
    The medical center - home to at least 10 physicians and the popular Doctor's Care office - will be closed for 90-180 days while the mess made from flooding is cleaned up and the building repaired. The building was not covered by flood insurance, and the financial hit stands to drain much of the hospital's cash reserves.
    "We're going to run real tight on cash," hospital CEO Jim Isaacs told board members, noting the hospital has a number of large expenditures on the horizon.
    Hospital officials have committed to buy a new telephone system for $225,000, and there are two renovation projects underway. Additionally, the hospital's share of a new cancer treatment center in Bellefontaine will be due later this year. All told, the hospital has about $1.25 million in outstanding commitments, not including the repair of the medical center.
   "We have to do all of this while at the same time managing the rebuilding process," Isaacs said.
    Hospital officials are nearing completion of lease deals to temporarily relocate doctors into offices in Celina and Coldwater.
    Repair work cannot begin until an environmental cleanup crew working at the site is finished. That contractor had to be brought in because the two to three inches of water that inundated the medical facility was contaminated with bacteria. Cleanup costs have topped $100,000 so far, including $40,000 on the first day.
    All carpet, floor and ceiling tile and the lower four feet of wallboard has been removed from the building. Any wall studs deemed contaminated also will be removed. Repairs will not begin until the air quality has been certified inside the building.
    Most of the equipment inside the building was saved by hospital workers who raced against rising water to move it onto trucks and haul it to storage, Isaacs said. Officials had planned an aggressive cleanup effort to get the facility reopened by today. After the building was contaminated, those plans changed.
    "The worst-case scenario is what developed," Isaacs told Mercer County emergency officials at an earlier meeting.
    The hospital's financial burden for fixing the building could be eased if some sort of state or federal assistance is granted. Outside help remains uncertain, though, Isaacs said.
    Chief fiscal officer Jim Wermert said the hospital could pursue a past $500,000 line of credit to maintain as a financial safety net. State law prevents the hospital from borrowing any more money without getting voter approval, Wermert said.
    Board member Dr. Tom Schwieterman suggested the board might be better off financing the medical center repairs instead of draining the hospital's available cash. Schwieterman also questioned the wisdom of rebuilding the facility in a floodplain. He said he would like the administration to at least come up with some alternate plans.
    The estimated $1 million cleanup and repair bill represents just a fraction of the building's replacement costs, Wermert said. He estimated it would cost in excess of $3 million to build a new 16,000-square-foot medical building.
    Board members also briefly discussed whether they should look into flood insurance coverage to protect against future losses. The consensus was that insurance coverage probably would not be affordable, especially since the building is in a floodplain.


Phone: (419)586-2371,   Fax: (419)586-6271
All content copyright 2003
The Standard Printing Company
P.O. Box 140, Celina, OH 45822