HCH rebuild revised

Staff writer

A new building for Hillsboro Community Hospital, once expected by early 2012, could be on the way after a multiyear delay caused by the operating company’s sudden bankruptcy in 2011.

The company, HMC/CAH Consolidated Inc., took over operation of HCH in 2008 and broke ground for a new building in Dec. 2010. In Oct. 2011, the company filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy, postponing the building’s construction.

As part of that recovery, HMC split off management of the company’s hospitals to Rural Community Hospitals of America.

RCHA is currently working to complete a feasibility study, and the Bank of Hays, which was the previous building’s underwriter, has showed interest in funding the project.

“They were understanding that the bankruptcy issue was not really our fault,” RCHA CEO Larry Arthur said.

Arthur explained that two lenders were not able to come through for the company, including one from Philadelphia that used a German bank, which was affected by the Greek financial crisis in 2011. When its lenders defaulted, HMC/CAH was faced with bankruptcy.

The company recovered and emerged from bankruptcy in 13 months, Arthur said, as opposed to the normal recovery time of 18 to 20 months.

Arthur said the building plans and costs are “consistent” with the previous efforts.

HCH CEO Marion Regier said the current facility was completed in 1956 and designed more for inpatient care. A new facility would have a greater focus on outpatient care but still offer inpatient services.

The building plans call for a 20,000-22,000 sq. ft. facility that would house the main hospital, with an additional 7,500 sq. ft. medical office building with a physical therapy unit.

Arthur said that while nothing is certain yet, the company looks to have the plans approved by the end of the year, with construction beginning early in 2015.

Arthur has been in contact with Hillsboro mayor Delores Dalke about the progress of the project, as well as Regier.

Regier’s optimism was more cautious. She said she’s not willing to promise anything. If all goes well with the company, though, she said construction could begin by the middle or end of 2015, with a nine-to 12-month building process in store before HCH can move in to its new building.

Regier said a new facility would be crucial to better serving the Hillsboro community, and accommodating an expanding hospital. The hospital is looking to add another physician, Alisa Schmidt, next August. Schmidt is in her third year at the Smoky Hill Family Medicine Residency Program at the Kansas University Medical Center in Salina.

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