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Plans for regional medical center unveiled

by Susie Vasquez, Appeal Staff Writer
The new Regional Medical Center being built by Carson-Tahoe Hopsital is scheduled to break ground this June. The $132 million project will be a 338,000 square-foot, state-of-the-art facility.
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Groundbreaking for Carson-Tahoe Hospital’s $132.5 million Regional Medical Center is planned for June 30, officials said Monday.

The hospital is expected to be completed by December 2005, hospital officials said.

On 55 acres between Eagle Ranch Road and Highway 395 in north Carson City, the building will stand three stories high with a partial basement. Plans include a helipad and parking for 590 cars. About three times the size of the existing hospital, the planned building is 338,000 square feet.

Hospital officials say the new facility will have state-of-the-art technology and a higher standard of care for people in the region

Carson-Tahoe Hospital now serves between 280,000 and 300,000 people from Lake Tahoe south to Bishop and from Washoe Valley east as far as Ely, said Ed Epperson, chief executive officer at the hospital.

“We’re losing 30 percent of our market to Reno hospitals,” said Carson-Tahoe Hospital spokeswoman Cheri Glockner. “We want recapture that market and better serve outlying areas.”

The construction phase of the medical center is expected to add $100 million in local wages, Epperson said.

The hospital employs about 950 people, second only to state government. Epperson said the number of employees is expected to increase to between 1,100 and 1,200, when the hospital opens in June 2005.

“It’s well documented that new, well-designed facilities attract staff,” Epperson said. “And modern facilities are more efficient, allowing nurses to get more done in less time.”

A number of free-standing buildings will be on the site, including an 18-bed short-stay surgical hospital, cancer center, physical plant and medical and administrative office buildings to be phased in over time.

Medical and surgical beds will increase from 99 to 135. Most of those beds are in private rooms. Space for future expansion will be included both in the hospital and on the 55-acre campus, Epperson said.

To fund the project, hospital officials will seek $95 million in bonding. The rest of the money will to generated internally, said hospital Chief Financial Officer Michael Blair.

“We have our first meeting with Standard & Poor’s, (to determine the bond rating) Feb. 12,” he said. “We expect to go out for bonding in April or May.”

Officials have not decided the fate of the old hospital on Mountain Street, just a few blocks north of the Governor’s Mansion.

“We’re exploring all options,” Epperson said. “And we’re leaning toward less-acute care.”

Hospital officials still need a special-use permit, master-plan amendment and change of land-use plan. That process will begin at Carson City’s Planning Commission on Wednesday.

Architects Moon and Mayoris will be handling some of the presentations at the meeting, Glockner said.

“We expect to iron out the problems at the planning commission level. This will probably be the longest part of process. ” she said. “We tried to keep the city informed as much as possible along the way and we don’t anticipate any serious problems.”

The plans must be submitted to Carson City supervisors for final approval.