By Timothy Cox
Mercer County Community Hospital officials are scrapping plans to build a concrete wall around the Community Medical Center in Celina in favor of cheaper flood mitigation plans.
The hospital's board of trustees, meeting without a quorum Wednesday, reached a consensus to halt plans for the flood wall. Trustees are expected to vote at their next regular meeting on a couple of alternative plans after construction costs for the wall came in far higher than hospital officials had originally anticipated.
Hospital officials originally had planned to spend $80,000-$100,000 to create the barrier around the building at 950 S. Main Street that was swamp-ed with contaminated water during last summer's severe flooding. Architects and engineers working on the proposal have now revised that figure to $180,000-$200,000, hospital CEO T.J. Padden said.
Further complicating the issue, the hospital received only a single bid from Shinn Brothers, Celina, and that bid exceeded even the revised construction estimate.
"What we're hearing is that contractors are booked," Padden said. Even with a full slate of available contractors, trustees do not necessarily want to spend $200,000 to build a wall to prevent a future flood that might or might not occur, Padden said. Instead, they recommended other measures for hospital administration officials to look into.
Installing backflow prevention devices on sanitary sewer lines could prevent the backup of bacteria-tainted water that damaged the medical center last summer, Padden said. Beyond that, the hospital plans to buy some sandbags and create a disaster response plan that would be activated if water ever threatens the building again.
"The trustees indicated they would rather spend that kind of money ($200,000) on diagnostic equipment and patient care," Padden said. "We're going to see if we can use the human process and disaster planning to see if we can save that money."
The medical center on the south edge of Celina was at the heart of the worst flooding in the area. The nearby Beaver Creek spilled its banks, flooding the medical center parking area and the Breakaway RecPlex located across the highway.
The sewage backup damaged the building further.
Cleanup and repair of the 25,000-square-foot facility took several months and cost $1.5 million. State and federal assistance offset some of those costs but the hospital still lost nearly $475,000. The building was not insured at the time, although hospital officials now carry flood insurance that would provide up to $500,000 in coverage in the event of another flood.
-- Photograph by Shelley Grieshop shows the Community Medical Center in Celina during 2003 flooding.