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Trustees propose new hospital site

by Susie Vasquez

Trustees named 50 acres adjacent to Eagle Valley Children’s Home as their first choice for Carson-Tahoe Hospital’s new campus.

Some of the acreage is taken up by easements and covenants, reducing the usable area to about 32 acres, but the purchase of additional parcels south of the property could increase the total usable land to about 65 acres.

That land could be bought by private interests for development of medical office buildings, hospital officials said. The site is located just north of Eagle Valley Ranch Road.

Carson City supervisor Pete Livermore said this project could be one of the largest and most significant developments in Carson City.

“The hospital employs 900 now, but that could increase to 1,400 or 1,500 in four to five years, once the hospital is established,” Livermore said. He said the upscale regional medical center will provide the latest technology, eventually including additional cardiology and neurology services. Private development surrounding the facility could provide a high tech medical center to the benefit of all in Carson City and he pledged support of the project at the city level.

Finance committee member Dr. Roger Meyer said accessibility would be limited until the bypass is completed, and asked if there were any road contingency plans.

“Traffic in Carson City will be a problem no matter what we do,” said Chief Executive Officer Emeritus Steve Smith.

He said back roads could be developed to ease the problem. But these are problems that can be solved, according to Livermore.

“The hospital and the city will be working together to develop the needed infrastructure,” Livermore said.

Smith estimated that the Carson Ambulatory Surgical Center could have a 30-bed facility built on the property in about two-and-a-half years. The hospital could be completed in about four and a half years.

“It’s a great site on a good spot with good visibility where we won’t be bothering residents,” he said.

Finance Committee member Dr. Roger Meyers cast the only dissenting vote and Trustee Jo Saulisberry voiced concerns about the move, saying that some physicians, so critical to the hospital’s success, may not follow the hospital to the new location.

“There are a lot of physicians saying they won’t go,” she said. “But we need to look to the future, 25 years.”

Price was not discussed during Thursday’s meeting, but the Eagle Valley Children’s Home owns the property.

“I think that they are probably looking at a long-term lease so the children’s home can have an income and help support that facility,” Saulisberry said. “But I haven’t heard a price. As long as we can have first option to buy if they decide they to sell, I think it will work out fine.”

A private, non profit foundation, was established by the Fritsch family according to Art Hannafin, chairman of the board for Eagle Valley Children’s Home.

“The land was purchased by the Fritsch family of Reno, after a family member gave birth to a child both mentally and physically challenged,” he said. “They had great heart and hope, and opened Eagle Valley Children’s Home about 58 years ago.”

Hannafin said the Board had been very concerned about the land, considered their major asset.

“When the city started growing toward us, it increased our concern about how to find use to our benefit,” he said. “The hospital is a natural fit. They strive to be a good neighbor and they do an excellent job.”