Start of new hospital construction delayed until early 2009

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This is an artist?s rendition of what the new Hillsboro Community Hospital will look like when completed in mid-2010. Because cost increases have slowed and the harsh winter season approaches, the project won?t be launched until early next year.

The timeline for starting construction on a $10 million hospital in Hillsboro has been delayed by several months?but for mostly positive reasons, according to the local man in charge.

Mike Ryan, chief executive officer of Hillsboro Community Hospital, said the national economic downturn has eased the rise of construction costs that the parent company faced this summer.

Under considerably less pressure to get the project started quickly, and with the challenge of winter on the horizon, parent company HMC/CAH Consoli?dated Inc. decided to wait until early next year to begin the project, Ryan said.

When the company announced plans in late June to purchase the operation then known as Hillsboro Community Medi?cal Center, officials were projecting an August start.

?Everybody was pretty much in a rush then, wanting to get the groundbreaking and construction started as soon as possible because the construction costs were going up quite a bit every month,? Ryan said.

?It was getting to the point where we were going to have to start thinking about where we could cut back to stay within budget.?

Ryan said the economic downturn has changed all that.

?We will hopefully benefit from having lower costs across the spectrum, whether it?s concrete or copper, architect fees, labor?whatever might be part of that new construction,? Ryan said.

?The economic downtown is not a good thing for anybody, but sometimes, with any kind of an unfortunate occurrence like this, there are some silver linings.

?I think (the project is) going to be at a lower cost than what it was two months ago.?

With costs stabilizing, officials looked at the calendar.

?The thought was why fight the Kansas winter?? Ryan said. ?For a construction project like this, you?re going to be pouring a lot of concrete. It?s difficult to get it to cure properly in the winter. It can be done, but it?s just a little more difficult.?

The delay has given the planning team more time to continue tweaking the building plan, Ryan added.

?We were still looking at plans, and changes to plans, and then it just kind of occurred to everybody that we don?t have to rush into this,? he said. ?The pressure isn?t there anymore to do that since the prices are not going up.

?We?ll end up with something better at the end of it as the result of having a little additional time to take a look at the plans and run through different scenarios.?

Ryan said at no time was the project slowed because of any difficulty finding sufficient financing in this troubled economic climate.

?I?m sure many people might think that?s the reason for it, but that?s not it,? Ryan said. ?We had the mortgage filed, we had our financing all in place, so we could have gone ahead with that.

?As far as I know the money would have been available.?

Waiting won?t have a significant effect on the project?s completion date, Ryan said.

?I?m sure it will delay it a few months, but we?re still on the road,? he said. ?I think our plan is to have groundbreaking and to begin construction in early 2009 and we?re still looking for completion probably in mid-2010.?

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