Sweetwater Memorial Moves Forward with SLIB Grant Application for Improvement Projects

Sweetwater Memorial Moves Forward with SLIB Grant Application for Improvement Projects

SweetwaterNOW file photo

ROCK SPRINGS — Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County (MHSC) will move forward with two grant applications to the State Lands and Investments Board (SLIB) for lab and medical office building renovations.

The hospital Board of Trustees voted unanimously to apply for two Health and Human Service Capital Construction American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) grants from SLIB. The two proposed projects MHSC are for a lab renovation and expansion project and a Medical Office Building (MOB) renovation.

The lab project is estimated to cost around $8.7 million, while the MOB renovation is expected to cost about $2.2 million.

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Trustee Ed Tardoni wondered what the hospital would do with the $3 million the Sweetwater County Commissioners committed at their July 19 meeting for both projects should only one of the SLIB grants be approved and the $1 million designated from the MHSC Foundation. He said this is a lesson they have learned and will know better next time they seek funds.

“I will say the same thing I said in the Finance and Audit Committee meeting. I’m OK with submitting these applications for both projects, but I don’t want in any way, shape or form, for someone to assume that that means I’m in favor of the projects ultimately,” Trustee Marty Kelsey said.

Kelsey said he has financial concerns in regards to the hospital especially when looking over the last few months. He questioned whether the cost estimates for the projects are close to what they will actually be. He said he will decide if he will support the projects if either of them are approved for grant funding.

“That’s my sentiment on it and that’s how I feel,” Kelsey said.

The financial commitment for the hospital would be $850,000 for both of them, Tardoni said. That cash flow will not occur in this fiscal year, but in the next fiscal year. Tardoni agreed with Kelsey saying this decision is separate from one that will need to be made later if their grant funding applications are approved.

He said they will need to look at the budget and see if they have the $850,000 if and when they receive the grants. Tardoni added that the hospital has had huge turnarounds in its finances in the past and they have time to do that again before they need to make a decision.

Tiffany Marshall, MHSC Foundation Executive Director, said the SLIB grant applications are due August 12 and then they will go through a rigorous vetting and pointing process. Once that is completed, the SLIB Board will set up a meeting to review and confirm or reject them. She anticipates hearing from them sometime between mid to late September. She said the projected timeline for the hospital to start the projects would be during the first quarter of 2023.

Trustee Taylor Jones asked Marshall if there was anyway to combine the projects into one so they aren’t competing against each other for funding. Marshall explained that the SLIB application specifically stated only one project could be on each application and the cost estimates for each project was done separately. However, she said she would reach out to the state and double check.

She said the MHSC Foundation has committed $1 million to the lab project only. As for the Commission’s portion of the funding, Marshall said they told the Commission they would return with an update if the grants were approved and they can ask about the funding distribution at that time.

After a little more discussion, the board approved the motion to apply for the grants and will now wait to find out if the grants will be approved.