Hospital seeks county in-kind help with assisted living project

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As Swift County-Benson Health Services tries to reduce the cost of building an assisted living/memory care facility on its campus it is looking for ways to reduce the costs of construction.

It has already reduced the price of the project to near $10 million by scaling down the size of the facility. But it is also hoping to get some help from Swift County. At the county board’s May 2 meeting, SCBHS CEO Kurt Waldbillig asked commissioners to consider providing in-kind work on site preparation this fall.

Commissioners listened to the request, but want to know more about the costs of providing the service, about potential liability, and whether helping out the hospital will interfere with other county projects that need to get done. They are also hesitant to provide services that could be done by private businesses in the county.

In February, the SCBHS governing board voted to move forward with building an assisted living and memory care facility at an estimated cost of $10.5 million and finance it by selling revenue bonds. Those bonds would be paid off by hospital earnings and would not involve Swift County or the City of Benson having to back the financing with general obligation bonds.

The security for the revenue bonds will be the revenues earned by the hospital and its assisted living operation. It is hoped that ground can be broken for the project by late July or early August.

Lancaster-Pollard, a Minneapolis firm that specializes in health care sector projects, is working with the governing board on the financial package.

To make construction more financially feasible, the governing board agreed to scale back the initial phase of the project. The original project called for 22 assisted living beds on the main floor of a two-story building. There were 16 memory care beds and 34 enhanced assisted living beds in the original design. The new plan reduces the number of enhanced assisted living beds to 18.

There are currently 31 assisted living units in Scofield Place, which is adjacent to the hospital on the east. Those units are full and there are 40 names on a waiting list, Waldbillig told commissioners.

While the project will be scaled back by 9,600 square feet to about a 51,000-square-foot building, construction of the first phase would be done with future expansion in mind. The new building is to be attached to the south side of Scofield Place on land owned by the hospital.

Work with Lancaster Pollard on financing is expected to allow the project to move forward this year. But to move it along ensuring that site work is complete allowing construction to begin as soon as possible, the hospital is seeking county help....


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