Millions Being Spent On Hospital Construction

(Click here for a sampling of some hospital construction. Chart requires Adobe Acrobat viewer; click here for a free copy.)

Hospital construction activity across Arkansas reflects a mix of expansion and renovation work with a heavy dose of replacements for aging facilities.

At $140 million, the biggest of the bunch is the new St. Mary's Hospital in Rogers.

The 75-acre campus, on the east side of Interstate 540 just south of Pinnacle Point, will be home to a 350,000-SF, 200-bed medical center and a 150,000-SF medical office building.

Ground was broken a month ago on the project, which is expected to open in June 2007.

The hospital's current quarters at 1200 W. Walnut St. encompasses about 250,000 SF with 165 beds. Future uses for that property are uncertain.

"Right now, we don't have any plans," said Edward Mirzabegian, chief operating officer for St. Mary's. "We're looking at the possibilities."

Among the options are nursing home, psychiatric hospital or educational facility.

Plans for a new Sparks Regional Medical Center campus in Fort Smith are expected to regain momentum with the formation of a joint venture.

Triad Hospitals Inc. of Plano, Texas, will own an 80 percent stake in the development, with the balance owned by Sparks Community Foundation.

A year in the making, Sparks Regional Health System LLC should be launched by Oct. 31.

The joint venture will bring together Triad, the third-largest hospital company in the nation and operator of nine Arkansas facilities, and Sparks, which is among the largest and least profitable hospitals in the state.

Some services may stay put at the current 1.3 million-SF complex covering 98.2 acres when a new project comes on line.

Replacement facilities are in the early stages of construction for Delta Memorial Hospital in Dumas and Chicot Memorial Hospital in Lake Village.

Bids came in over the hoped-for $9.7 million budget at Delta Memorial, but alterations to the original plans helped get the project back on track at $10 million.

"We literally went through hundreds of items and tweaked and cut," said Ed Peek of the Little Rock architectural firm of Wittenberg Delony & Davidson.

Construction of a new 45,000-SF medical center is in motion for Chicot Memorial.

A hoped-for second phase would entail renovating the old hospital space for use by physical therapy, improved kitchen area and administrative offices.

Officials at three hospitals are examining plans to develop new facilities.

The scenarios at Siloam Springs Memorial Hospital range from several expansion/renovation choices to developing a brand new complex. Estimates start at $3.7 million and top $11 million, depending on the scenario.

Plans for a new Baptist Health Medical Center in Heber Springs are expected to move into the design stage before year's end. A 22,000-SF, 25-bed replacement facility is in the talking stages at Eureka Springs Hospital.

Officials at Baptist Memorial Hospital in Blytheville had looked at developing a $12.5 million replacement facility, but the would-be project is on indefinite hold.

"There is no timetable right now," said Larry Burton, assistant administer at Baptist Memorial. "We're consolidating some services, and we're not in a position to move forward."

Officials at two other rural hospitals also have tabled construction plans. Officials at Dallas County Medical Center in Fordyce were looking at a new $7.5 million project, and Stuttgart Regional Medical Center proposed adding 16 beds and a new dining/ kitchen facility estimated at $2.8 million.

A $12.2 million expansion/upgrade development is under way at Johnson Regional Medical Center in Clarksville. Work on a 29,000-SF addition is about 20 percent complete heading toward a September 2005 completion.

Larry Morse, administrator at Johnson Regional, said the project includes new space for radiology, the emergency room, admission and surgical suites as well as a new entrance and power plant.

"We have had 25 percent growth in the ER during the past several years, and it's time to upgrade our power plant," Morse said. "The project is financed with a $10 million bond issue."

A second phase, ballparked at $8 million, is on the drawing boards to add a 30,000-SF patient wing.

A $9 million surgical center should be open in January at Saline Memorial Hospital in Benton. The 32,000-SF structure will house six operating rooms, 10 pre-op beds, 10 acute recovery beds and 13 recovery beds.

"We've had to grow significantly to keep up with the demand for services," said Jack Mitchell, chief executive officer at Saline Memorial.

The project will lead into the hospital's golden anniversary in June.

The ever expanding Arkansas Children's Hospital in Little Rock is adding a combined 56,000 SF to its research institute and nutrition center. The $17.5 million project should be completed in April.

At Ouachita Medical Center in Camden, a $7.4 million construction/ renovation project will result in a new and enlarged wing replacing an antiquated one.

New construction, scheduled for completion in July, will total 19,974 SF and result in 40 medical/surgical beds and eight intensive care beds. Renovation of 16,368 SF, scheduled for completion in February 2006, is tied to 22 medical/surgical beds; five labor, delivery, recovery and post partum beds; and four gynecology beds.