By Roz Kohls
The $26.5 million expansion of Meeker County Memorial Hospital is right on schedule, and might even be a little bit ahead.
Pouring the 1,000 cubic yards of concrete for the third floor is scheduled for Friday, May 2, hospital CEO Mike Schramm told the Meeker County Board of Commissioners Tuesday. This concrete pour will be even bigger than the first one in February. Two pumper trucks will be on each side of the expansion site and pumping concrete continuously from a steady stream of cement trucks, so the pour can be completed in one day, Schramm said.
Construction on the roof is scheduled for the end of May. All of the concrete work is expected to be finished in June, and the expansion will be completely enclosed by September, he said.
Bids for the third phase were opened Feb. 7, and included 34 trade contracts totalling $16 million. All three phases have been under-budget, so hospital officials considered using contingency funds for changes in the brick work on the outside of the building, screens to block noise from the air conditioning and heating units on the roof, and chillers, Schramm said.
JE Dunn Construction of Eden Prairie is the general contractor for the project.
A fund raising campaign for the expansion is now open to the community at large, Schramm said. Hospital officials are starting with face-to-face meetings with 750 individual people to solicit donations. Then the campaign will expand to phone contacts and mailings, Schramm said.
In other hospital business, the hospital had a strong financial performance in the first quarter, especially in February, he added.
Turning to other subjects, the county board and County Sheriff Mike Hirman discussed having deputies transport seriously mentally ill or chemically dependent people from the emergency room, when an ambulance isn’t needed.
County Attorney Stephanie Beckman said the law was changed so that emergency response personnel must take these patients to the hospital first to be examined. However, the hospital doesn’t have the security, neither manpower nor space, to hold these patients if they become violent or get out of control. The statute has a “gap” in specifying how the patients will be transported to the appropriate setting, she said.
If an ambulance isn’t needed, Hirman said he would rather have the ambulance available to respond to accidents and other emergencies. Secure transport can be provided by the sheriff’s office instead, he said.
Odds and ends
In other business, the county board:
• approved seasonal fuel bids. Jack’s Oil Distributing of Eden Valley received the contract for supplying fuel to the eight county highway department locations for $144,807, according to County Highway Department Engineer Ron Mortensen. Litchfield Oil Company received the contract for providing fuel to the sheriff’s office for $80,320. Flash’s Gas & Auto of Watkins received the contract for the highway department facility in Watkins for $35,210, and Litchfield Oil for the facility in Litchfield for $93,137.
The actual cost of diesel fuel in 2002 was $83,057. In 2007, diesel cost $223,121. Mortensen said the price of fuel is so high, fuel is now 25 percent of the budget for highway construction projects.
• approved changing the 100-percent employee-paid dental insurance provider for county employees to Ameritas from Humana.
• contracted with Wold Architects of St. Paul to provide engineering to replace the courthouse boiler and a three-way valve for $6,000. The entire replacement project is estimated to cost $80,000, according to County Administrator Paul Virnig.