County to Consider Providing Hospital with $1 Million for Plant Upgrades

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SWEETWATER COUNTY– At the next Sweetwater County Commissioners meeting on December 18, the commissioners will consider a $1 million budget amendment for Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County with the purpose of plant upgrades.

Upgrades to the Hospital’s HVAC System are Needed

MHSC is currently working towards upgrading the hospital’s heating and ventilation system, which is still the original system, making it 40 years old. If the HVAC system goes out or fails, it could be extremely detrimental for the hospital.

According to Commissioner John Kolb, the county commission’s liaison to the hospital, the upgrades are expected to be around $2 million. Kolb said the heating and ventilation issues are now a liability, and it is crucial to make the upgrades.

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Kolb said the hospital’s money has gone into hiring, positions, and things people can actually see in the building, but no one has put money into the HVAC system, which he said is the “backbone” of the facility.

County Has Some Responsibility to Help Fund the Project

Although the hospital’s finances have been going up, they still do not have the funds to complete this project on their own.

“The hospital, frankly, does not have enough money to cover these things,” Kolb said.

Kolb said that the hospital is going to need help with funding, and that he would be in support of providing the hospital with $1 million of additional funding to help get the plant upgrades made.

“We do bare some responsibility for this level of issue,” Kolb said.

Hospital Would Match County Funds

Sweetwater Memorial was initially planning on phasing the project out so they could afford it overtime, but according to Kolb, the hospital board had a discussion and decided phasing the project out brings forth reliability issues.

If the county provides $1 million, the hospital will match these funds, and the project will be able to be completed before something drastic happens with the current HVAC system.

Considering the hospital provides such important services to the county, the commissioners are supportive of helping them in this situation.

At the last meeting, the commissioners unanimously approved the hospital’s request to use maintenance funds for the purchase of a chiller, pumps, piping, and ancillary equipment, as well as the installation of the chiller. The estimated cost of this phase of the project was $269,000.