UAMS Operating Loss May Top $46 Million

by Mark Friedman  on Monday, Oct. 6, 2008 12:00 am  

The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences will open its $150 million nine-story hospital in January. The Patient Tower will feature larger patient rooms, an emergency department, a clinical lab and a a radiology department.

In 2004, Wilson asked the University of Arkansas Board of Trustees to approve construction of a new hospital and a massive facelift for the campus.

The old UAMS hospital, built in the 1950s, was getting old. For one thing, the patient rooms were too small for modern medical equipment, Wilson said. The price tag in 2004 was just under $170 million for the new hospital, a 1,000-space parking deck and a new dormitory.

By 2006, the cost of the project has increased to more than $200 million as more floors were added to the hospital.

"The first estimate was very low," Wilson said, according to a Jan. 27, 2006, article in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. "It was done internally on campus."

Wilson expressed the urgency of the project to the trustees at a January 2006 meeting.

"If we don't do [the project], UAMS will deteriorate over the next few years," Wilson said at the meeting.

And Wilson also said, "I do believe we can pay it back."

The board unanimously agreed to allow UAMS to issue about $200 million worth of bonds to pay for the project. UAMS pledged the hospital's income against the bonds.

Johnson, the UA trustee, said he doesn't recall if a report was presented on the financial impact of the new hospital. 

He said when he has tried to get financial information out of UAMS, such as breakdowns for different departments, he has come away frustrated. 

"It's very difficult sometimes because you have to read between the lines and ask certain question to get basic answers," Johnson said. "That's been one of the frustrations that I feel, being a member of the board, not getting true information."

UAMS CFO Goodhand said she didn't recall giving the board a financial plan on the new hospital.



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