County Approves $1 Million Budget Amendment for Hospital

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SWEETWATER COUNTY– The Sweetwater County Commissioners unanimously approved a $1 million budget amendment for the Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County’s plant upgrade project at today’s commissioner meeting.

The commissioners discussed the budget amendment at their December 4 meeting.

According to ST+B Engineering, the hospital’s engineers for the Central Plant Upgrade project, the estimated cost for the total project is $3,255,000. The remaining cost of the project will be paid for by MHSC.

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Irene Richardson, MHSC CEO thanked the commissioners, saying that the additional funding will “go a very long way” in their upgrades, namely upgrades to their HVAC system.

Commissioner John Kolb said the hospital is a great service to the entirety of Sweetwater County, and even visitors to the county, so he is pleased the commission could help them with their upgrades.

The HVAC Upgrades

The MHSC building is 40-years-old this year, and a lot of the building infrastructure have never been replaced. Much of the infrastructure needed for the hospital to deliver patient care needs replaced.

Chiller Plant

The Chiller Plant needs replacing, as the existing modular chillers are operating at less than 65 percent of actual capacity, and the entire capacity is required during summer conditions.

The existing modular chiller is based on plate type Heat Exchanger (HX) technology, which is prone to clogging. ST+B Engineering has recommended the hospital switch to conventional shell and tube type HX technology, as it is more easily cleaned.

Chairman Reid West expressed concerns over the shell and tube type HX technology not being as efficient as the plates. However, Jim Horan, Director of Facilities at MHSC said the tubes are much more efficient now than they have been in the past.

The Cooling Tower hot and cold water basins also need replaced, as they are corroded.

Heating Plant

The Heating Plant’s essential Deaerator (DA) Tank component has also exceeded useful service life and needs replaced, as it has been in service for over 40 years. It no longer properly removes oxygen from the water to appropriately protect heating piping distribution assets throughout the hospital.

Upgrades Will Last Over 30 Years

The expected life span of the cooling plant upgrade is about 30-years, meaning the upgrades will be functional until 2050. The Heating DA Tank is expected to last until 2070 until it will need replacing.

The hospital has several other maintenance projects, in total amounting to about $9 million. However, they are first setting their sights on the Chiller and Heating plants before taking on other projects.