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The Daily



08-28-03: Community hospital governors favor rebuilding Doctor’s Care office in Celina

COLDWATER — The Community Medical Center/Doctor’s Care office on the south edge of Celina will be rebuilt at the current site and likely reopened by the end of the year.
Mercer County Community Hospital board of governors on Wednesday signed off on a plan to restore the 25,000-square-foot building to its original state before the Independence Day flooding inundated the facility with up to three inches of water. Due to concerns about bacteria, all floor coverings, ceiling tiles and bottom four feet of wall boards were removed.
The hospital’s board of trustees still must approve the reconstruction plan, and board of governors members were adamant that they only want to rebuild if aggressive flood mitigation issues are looked at to protect the building in the future.
Clean-up costs and the construction at the site likely will reach $1.4 million, hospital officials said. Some state assistance might be available, but it remains unclear how much of the bill will be left for local officials to deal with.
Some board members, including Dr. Tom Schwieterman, wanted the board to consider some new ideas and possibly a new location to rebuild the facility. He also suggested that maybe the offices there could be paired with the other hospital holdings in the Celina area.
In the end, though, time and financial constraints led board members to approve the most basic plan to repair and rebuild the site at its current location at 950 S. Main St.
Board members were facing a couple of deadlines relative to the issue. The doctors who were based at the medical center and were temporarily relocated to various offices in Celina and Coldwater would not have to return to the facility if it is not reopened by Nov. 20. Also, the window for any potential state assistance closes after six months from the time of the flood.
“In four months, we have to have bills in to the state,” said Jim Wermert, the hospital’s chief financial officer.
Board members Frances Pax and Schwieterman pushed for the inclusion of language in the board’s resolution that calls for mitigation efforts to be pursued. The hospital needs a contingency plan in the event of future flooding and some physical improvements at the site to reduce the threat posed by the nearby Beaver Creek, they said.
Some said the chances of flooding equal to what was seen in July are slim, maybe 1 percent per year. But Schwieterman said he believes human intervention could have made the area more flood-prone.
“That spillway changes every equation in the book,” Schwieterman said, talking about the massive concrete structure on West Bank Road that regulates the level of Grand Lake St. Marys and feeds the Beaver Creek.
Possible mitigation efforts include changes to floodplain maps, possible alterations to Schunk Road, or possible flood walls around the medical center property or along the road. The bicycle path bridge over the creek also could be widened to eliminate a bottleneck there, hospital CEO Jim Isaacs said.
However, Isaacs admitted that some potential mitigation efforts might not be popular with downstream neighbors. Flood walls and similar barriers would only send more water downstream, possibly worsening conditions somewhere else, he said.
Other potential plans were presented to the board, including building a new facility or renovating an existing building at another Celina location. But even the cheapest new construction scenario still would cost several million dollars and board members did not seem interested in discussing such an expansive project.
The building was not covered by flood insurance although a new policy has now been taken out for about $2,500. The policy provides up to $500,000 in protection, which still represents only a fraction of the building’s value.
Bruns Construction, St. Henry, the original builder of the facility, is in line to do the work, estimated at $860,000. Isaacs said the law firm Bricker & Eckler, Columbus, provided the hospital with a legal opinion that officials can proceed with the work without seeking competitive bids due to the emergency situation.


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