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New Samaritan feasibility study completed, submitted

by CHERYL SCHWEIZER
Staff Writer | March 5, 2021 1:00 AM

MOSES LAKE — Whether construction starts this year on a new Samaritan Hospital depends on when officials hear on the fate of their request from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Samaritan Healthcare officials submitted an updated study this week to the USDA evaluating the ability to pay back loans the hospital district has applied for to build a new hospital.

Samaritan commissioners approved a second feasibility study after the USDA rejected the hospital’s loan application in October 2020.

Chief administrative officer Alex Town said the study results confirmed the hospital district would generate enough business to pay back the loans.

“It actually looked better,” Town said. “It further validates that yes, we can afford this project.”

The study evaluated the district’s current financial situation, as well as possible income and expenses over the next five or six years. The study also examined projected growth and health care needs in the hospital district during the same time frame.

Town said the hospital has added a number of new doctors, physician assistants and nurse practitioners, as well as new services. The existing services, such as surgery or diagnostic imaging, are projected to stay busy.

According to the study, the hospital district should be in a good financial position even with building a new hospital, Town said.

Total project cost hasn’t been determined. The cost study was conducted prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, and will have to be redone, Town said. In the earlier studies, the total cost was projected at more than $150 million, he said. Hospital officials applied to the USDA for $90 million, with the balance to come from the commercial loan market.

Hospital officials spent about a year working on a design, and came up with a tentative proposal in late 2019. The project was halted when the coronavirus pandemic began. As of now, the design remains unchanged, Town said.

Hospital officials don’t know how long it will take the USDA to respond to the revised study, Town said, but Samaritan officials hope to have an answer sometime this spring.

“They set the pace,” he said.

Cheryl Schweizer can be reached via email at cschweizer@columbiabasinherald.com.

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Cheryl Schweizer/Columbia Basin Herald

Nursing student Shalon Gough (left) consults with nursing instructor Katherine Christian (right) in a nurse's station at Samaritan Hospital. A second study on Samaritan's ability to pay back loans to build a new hospital has been completed.

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Cheryl Schweizer/Columbia Basin Herald

Certified nurse assistant Amanda Watkins (front) and registered nurse Holly Perry (back) enter data in a nurse's station at Samaritan Hospital. Samaritan officials have completed a second study to determine the feasibility of paying back loans to build a new hospital.

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Cheryl Schweizer/Columbia Basin Herald

A sign announces the proposed location for the new Samaritan Hospital on Yonezawa Boulevard. Samaritan officials completed a second study to determine whether the feasibility of paying back loans to build the new facility.