GIBSON CITY — Gibson Area Hospital’s new medical office building project is still the most expensive in the hospital’s history, but it won’t be as grand size-wise as originally intended.
What was originally planned as a $12 million, three-story addition at the site of the current Gibson Area Hospital Annex and employee parking lot is now an anticipated $8 million, two-story building located somewhere along the north side of the hospital.
Gibson Area Hospital Foundation Director Curt Homann explained at a fundraising event on Thursday at Railside Golf Club in Gibson City that the project had the potential to cost more than anticipated, meaning something needed to be changed.
“We didn’t want the building to become a financial burden to the hospital, and we want to be able to work on other things,” Homann said.
With the changes, a helicopter pad won’t be placed on top of the new building, as the current one is only used once a month and is not a high priority.
The office building will still have office space for physicians, surgeons and therapy services.
The project changes mean construction is not likely to begin until summer 2020, with completion in fall 2021.
Homann said the hospital plans to still move forward in the coming weeks with the expansion of its employee parking lot on the west side of Melvin Street on the site of two recently demolished houses.
Homann also said the location of the new medical office building may shift slightly, as fire codes require an outdoor exit for the Annex, the hospital’s nursing home. The original plan called for the main entrance to be located at the end of a long hallway of the new expansion building. Homann said a likely new location would be to the east where the hospital’s maintenance shed is located.
Chief Executive Officer Rob Schmitt said the hospital plans to expand its chemotherapy services at the medical office building with something called an “infusion therapy center.”
“We do some outpatient chemotherapy now — it’s in a small room that’s cramped and has no privacy — so this new space will fix that,” Schmitt explained. “It’s going to have all-private suites for patients as they get their treatments; it’s going to have clinics for doctors that come to take care so they’re all in the same location.”
Schmitt said that the 31,000-square-foot structure is still being paid for via a $2 million hospital foundation fundraiser, with the foundation itself contributing a matching amount up to $2 million.
So far, $400,000 has been raised. The hospital’s auxiliary and Schmitt each donated $50,000, while the hospital administrators gave $145,000 and the family of longtime volunteers Ernie and Connie Brown gave $10,000. An additional $150,000 has been pledged by donors in payments over the course of five years.