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With a unanimous vote Tuesday, September 17, members of Sierra Vista Hospital’s (SVH) governing board approved a proposed contract to complete construction of the new hospital. Established as Phase-Two, this project will bring planned construction to 100-percent completion, with installation of operating room and suite facilities, in-patient bedrooms and other remaining components.

Introducing the proposal, interim Chief Executive Officer (CEO) David Faulkner said the final phase would be completed for approximately $5.7 million. He emphasized this was a positive figure, as a legislative appropriation of approximately $5.2 million was already earmarked for the effort and the remaining amount to be shouldered by SVH was less than he originally thought it could be. The CEO told governing board members SVH’s cash reserves were presently holding near six million dollars, lending confidence to the facility’s ability to effectively handle the pending expense.

After reminding the board a near quarter-million dollars-worth of new operating room equipment was already on site awaiting installation, Faulkner indicated he was anxious to see the project move forward and the remaining 35-percent of the new hospital completed.

If all goes as currently planned, the CEO said phase-two construction would begin in October. While original hopes were for the overall facility to be completed by year’s end, Faulkner told board members he would now expect the upcoming work to take approximately 9-to-10 months to accomplish. As the new hospital is now occupied and operating daily, the CEO said construction would be slowed down as workers coordinate their efforts with the needs of hospital staff.

During this upcoming period of construction, Faulkner said there will inevitably be days when noise and obstructions interfere with hospital operations. In this light, he is urging hospital staff and patients to remain tolerant of potential disruptions, as the facility moves through this phase and is brought to completion.

Approval of the phase-two construction was the sole action item on the governing board’s special meeting agenda. After endorsing the project, members briefly reviewed expenditure limits and other aspects of the upcoming endeavor. During this discussion, Faulkner noted how SVH would be serving as its own fiscal agent for the phase-two work. He said this was primarily due to a personal letter Sierra County manager Bruce Swingle sent to state authorities. In the letter, Swingle maintained the formerly-required hiring of an independent party to serve as fiscal agent for both the county and SVH was inappropriate and unnecessary.

The CEO said Swingle’s letter successfully alerted supervisory authorities with the state, who in turn agreed and confirmed that SVH would be able to attend to the necessary fiscal management tasks. Faulkner said this freed the hospital from having to pay an approximate three-percent fee on the estimated $5.7 million construction costs to an outside agency. At this percentage, the change in fiscal agent requirements will save SVH near $150,000, and in this regard, Faulkner expressed his sincere appreciation for Swingle’s unsolicited effort.

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