By Timothy Cox
COLDWATER -- Anderson Architects of Van Wert has been hired by Mercer Health to conceptualize a proposal to build a hospital on the east edge of Celina.
Additionally, if the hospital project moves forward, the facility could be designed to include several phases that could be added as use of the hospital increases. Doing so would improve the affordability of the project, Mercer Health CEO T.J. Padden said.
If hospital officials build the new facility, it would be paid for out of Mercer Health's existing budget; no tax revenue would be sought for the project.
Separately, Mercer Health officials continue to pursue a change in the organization's Medicare status to improve funding that would make the new facility easier to finance.
Anderson Architects, owned by Celina resident Dennis Anderson, will work closely with hospital administration and staff on drafting a preliminary design. Terry Liette of Fanning/Howey Associates, Celina, also is involved in the process, Padden said. The preliminary design phase is expected to take four months or so. After that, the sketches will be unveiled to the public to further rally support for the project.
"It's going to be fun seeing this thing take shape. I'm looking forward to getting out in the community and getting feedback on it," Padden said. "We feel like we have the best available hometown talent working on this."
Details of the proposed hospital still are to be worked out, but officials have said they envision a smaller version of the existing hospital in Coldwater, with a full range of services, including laboratory and radiology services available on-site.
Mercer Health officials continue shopping for available land.
Preliminary engineering shows at least 15 acres would be necessary. Officials are looking for land along the state Route 29 corridor east and northeast of Celina. City officials also are working closely with hospital administrators to make the project a reality.
Hospital officials have set up an e-mail address to get feedback from the community. So far, only about a dozen messages -- almost entirely positive -- have been received, Padden said. The e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.