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‘This is awesome’: Samaritan approves $136 million loan for new hospital from U.S. Department of Agriculture

by CHERYL SCHWEIZER
Staff Writer | September 24, 2021 1:07 AM

MOSES LAKE — Samaritan Hospital commissioners on Thursday approved a resolution allowing hospital administrators to sign loan documents of $136 million from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Construction is scheduled to begin in spring 2022 and could take two years to complete.

The hospital district will contribute $27 million to the project, including $10 million in land.

“This is awesome, to be really honest,” said Samaritan’s chief executive officer, Theresa Sullivan. “This is a huge milestone.”

The total project cost is estimated at about $156 million. Joe Kunkel, a consultant working on the project, said that includes all equipment, as well as the construction. Samaritan officials opted to pay for the project without asking district voters for a construction bond.

The district’s first USDA loan application was rejected in October 2020.

When the loan application was rejected, the USDA suggested Samaritan officials reconsider not asking district voters for a bond, but the loan was approved without any requirement for a local bond.

Commissioners approved the construction of a 50-bed hospital in 2018. A design was completed in 2019; construction bid documents were being reviewed when the COVID-19 pandemic stopped work on the project in March 2020.

The building will be about 160,000 square feet and will be three stories. The hospital is designed so each floor is a little smaller than the floor below.

Kunkel said the design completed in 2019 is still usable, although some changes will have to be incorporated. Building codes for energy efficiency have changed, Kunkel said, and the design will have to incorporate them.

In addition, architects want to review the design to incorporate the lessons learned from the coronavirus pandemic, Kunkel said. Those include patterns of movement around the hospital, as well as airflow throughout the building.

There’s still work to do, Kunkel said, including obtaining necessary permits, finalizing the updated design, obtaining the remaining funding and putting the project out for bid. That work should be completed by March or April 2022, with groundbreaking tentatively scheduled for May 2022. Construction should take about two years, Kunkel said in an earlier interview.