Texas County Memorial Hospital is recognized Wednesday for an 8 million project for major improvements at the Houston institution. From left: Janet Wiseman and Omanez Fockler, hospital trustees; Janie Dunning, state director of USDA Rural Development; David Rauch, district director for U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill; Wes Murray, TCMH CEO: and Tammye Trevino, administrator, Rural Housing Service, USDA Rural Development.

A top official in the U.S. Department of Agriculture praised Texas County Memorial Hospital’s award Wednesday of more than $18 million to build a new core hospital on its campus in Houston.

Tammye Trevino, agriculture administrator for the Rural Housing Service, commended hospital leaders Wednesday in a ceremony for their commitment toward the project that was funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Trevino said the project was one of four nationwide – and the largest – that received the last funds under the program in late September. Other successful applications came from Pennsylvania, Nebraska and Tennessee. “It was a rush to get it out the door,” she said. After the effort was approved by U.S. Rural Development, it also had to get a final OK from the Office of Management and Budget and leaders within the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Trevino said the application process was very competitive.

Trevino said the 58,000 square foot project, along with renovations to the existing hospital, is expected to generate 200 construction-related jobs. Employment creation was the prime motivator behind the stimulus act, she said, and her bosses President Barack Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack are proponents of aiding rural areas. Administrators were tasked with determined which projects would generate “the most bang for the buck,” and the county project ranked high enough to gain approval. Similar projects, she said, have stopped a 22-month downhill slide in job losses and stabilized the economy, she said.

Janie Dunning, Rural Development’s Missouri director, termed the Houston application as a “fabulous project” that would meet the health needs of the region. She said it reflected well on leaders who saw the need and moved to capture the loan, which is expected to be loaned at a rate no more than 4 percent over a 30-year term.

Hospital employees, doctors and community leaders looked on from the hospital’s front door during the ceremony.

Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill was instrumental in working with the hospital to find funding. A representative, David Rauch, read a letter from McCaskill that is published in this week’s Herald. “By expanding and renovating the facility, the hospital will be able to provide healthcare services to more people while creating jobs in the area,” she said.

Much of the hospital’s operation, said TCMH CEO Wes Murray, will be housed in a new 58,000 square foot addition situated northeast of the existing building. A new, larger emergency department and private medical surgical patient rooms are included in the project, which also calls for remodeling, renovation and even relocation of several hospital departments.



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