With $1.7 million in grant and donation funds on the line, the Texas County Memorial Hospital board of trustees voted unanimously to proceed with building a planned tornado safe room and surgery department shell during last week’s monthly meeting.

Wes Murray, chief executive officer at TCMH, presented construction options to the hospital board members, noting that several tornado safe room projects around the state have been bid about 30 percent higher than initial estimates.

Bales Construction in Waynesville was the low bidder.

“The safe room portion of this project came back about $300,000 higher than estimated,” Murray said. 

Murray said TCMH will approach FEMA to help cover some of the higher than projected cost. According to Murray, $225,000 in the bids for the tornado safe room are FEMA-eligible.

“South Central Council of Government is going to help us go back to FEMA to request additional funding,” Murray said.

In June 2011, FEMA awarded TCMH $562,500 for the project, thought to be 75 percent of the total cost of the FEMA-eligible portions of the tornado safe room. TCMH was covering the remainder 

TCMH also received a $298,400 in a Community Development Block Grant toward construction of the tornado safe room and surgery department. The TCMH Healthcare Foundation has also raised and received funds for $909,555 in donations toward the project through a capital campaign effort, and additional pledges toward the project have also been made.

“If we don’t proceed, we risk losing $800,000 in grant funds for the project,” Murray said.

FEMA stipulated that the tornado safe room must be complete by November 2014.  The south wing of the hospital has already been removed in anticipation of building the tornado safe room. 

HMN Architects in Springfield designed the tornado safe room and new surgery department to connect to the existing building where the south wing was removed. The design also allows for a shell for the new surgery department. Completion of the surgery department is not required immediately.

“If we scale down our current construction plans, we can continue to seek funding for completing the infill of the new surgery department and the fixtures for that department,” Murray said.

According to Murray, it may be possible for TCMH to have some of the work done in-house by the TCMH plant operations department.

The TCMH Healthcare Foundation will continue to collect pledges through 2017 for the “Care for Your Future” capital campaign portion of the project.  The foundation is also working toward raising $480,000 in tax credits for the project.

Murray explained that the surgery shell will connect the tornado safe room with the current hospital via corridors.  They will access the current hospital, the tornado safe room and the hospital wing the currently houses the surgery, obstetrics and intensive care departments.

“This scaled down plan will allow us to proceed without losing the funding we have been awarded, and at the end of next year if we are able to do the infill, we can proceed at that time,” Murray said.

The surgery shell will have the needed electrical and plumbing components, but the walls, flooring, lighting, and details of the interior of the department will not be complete.  The necessary surgical components — lighting, tables, fixtures — are a separate component to the department that will require additional expenditures.

TCMH is planning a public ground breaking for the construction project at 1 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 17.

Murray also reported that 75-90 percent of the renovation work is complete and TCMH departments should be utilizing their new space by the end of October.

“Everything has gone very smoothly,” Murray said regarding the renovation of vacated areas.

Hospital departments that will gain additional patient care areas, office and storage space are cardiopulmonary, cardiac rehabilitation, laboratory, education and dietary. Several departments will also be moved into a centralized suite of offices with administration.

Murray explained that JE Dunn, the general contractor for the new construction and renovation, would move its construction trailer off site within the week.

“While JE Dunn’s construction manager will still be on site overseeing the project, the book work for the project is nearly complete,” Murray said.

The hospital’s in-house pharmacy has moved into a new space between the obstetrics department and the east wing of the hospital. A connecting hallway to the mixing room and a service window must be added, but the work in the department has been done by the hospital’s plant operations department.

“Our guys have done a great job with the new space for pharmacy, and they have saved us quite a bit of money by doing the project, too,” Murray said.

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