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St. Charles Bend outlines details of scaled-back tower project

Still $66 million cost, but three floors, not four

BEND, Ore. - (Update: More details from St. Charles chief financial officer)

St. Charles Bend made public Wednesday its scaled-back plans for a new patient tower -- one consisting of three floors, not four, and targeted for completion in 2019, a year later than initially planned, but still within the original price tag of $66 million.

"The St. Charles Health System Board of Directors recently voted to approve a new scope for the tower project after a core team of caregivers spent time reviewing the plan to ensure the space would meet the most community needs possible the day it opens," the announcement said.

Highlights of the decision include:

·         The tower will be a three-story building

·         Twenty-four ICU beds will be built on the first floor

·         The second floor will have 28 inpatient beds

·         Shell space will be constructed on the lower level

·         The current ICU will be reserved for future ICU expansion of eight beds if needed

“I’m proud of the team for taking the time to look at this project critically and coming back with an option that maximizes the $66 million, fulfills our commitment to provide greater critical care capacity to the region and results in more beds being available for less intensive care needs,” said Jenn Welander, chief financial officer for St. Charles Health System.

“This new scope ensures we are meeting our patients’ needs, while also being fiscally responsible,” Welander added.

Construction on the utility portion of the project will begin in early July. Portions of the Loop Road will be shut down over the next few months and caregivers will be asked to park in the new O and P lots on the east side of the hospital to save parking spaces near the Rehab entrance for patients.

The new tower is scheduled to open in spring of 2019, roughly a year later than initially planned.

The new plans come nearly a year after the health system, Central Oregon’s largest employer, announced plans for the new patient tower, to be located north of the existing intensive care unit, as well as a new 500-space parking lot that’s already been built since then.

The city land-use application was put on hold by St. Charles on May 15, and officials acknowledged that the health system was $8 million below its forecast revenues for the first four months of the year. They cited various factors, such as rising deductibles under health care reform that prompted some people to put off non-critical procedures.

“We asked the team to review the project scope,” Welander told NewsChannel 21. “It got to a certain point it was evident that the current scope wasn’t fitting into the budget that we’d established." 

The mission they were given was to “maximize the amount of space” usable for patients, both critical care and in-patient beds, and Welander said they did so quicker than expected, in less than three months.

Hospital spokeswoman Lisa Goodman said Wednesday a key change is a reduction in the amount of “shell space” — initially undeveloped space that would be available for future growth. 

“We’ve had to reduce the amount of shell space, not knowing what the availability of capital will be in the future,” she said. “With the health system’s financial situation evolving, we wanted to be sure what we built was ready to go, the day it goes live — built out and ready for use.” There will still be some undeveloped shell space in the lower level, but less of it, she said. 

The budget remains $66 million, despite the delay, which can push building costs higher. “We’re just spending it differently,” Goodman said.  


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