USDA approval –what's next for the Hospital District?


PINEDALE – Sublette County Hospital District (SCHD) administrator Dave Doorn gave a final update to the Board of Trustees on the status of the district’s $32-million loan application through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to build a hospital – “approved.”

The SCHD board got down to business as trustees met for the first time since receiving news of the USDA’s acceptance on July 27.

Out to bid

The bidding process is already underway, Doorn reported, with proposals due on Aug. 2. Layton Construction, the district’s construction manager, hosted a pre-bid meeting on Monday, July 25, and plans to organize a second pre-bid meeting for subcontractors soon, Doorn added.

Layton is putting in extra work to attract “as many bids as possible,” including fielding six employees to solicit companies each day, Doorn said. The company received a “good response” to date, with companies submitting bids for all aspects of construction from maintenance to electrical, Doorn explained.

Doorn affirmed Layton and the district would collaborate to get the best value at the lowest prices during the process. The team also committed to including as many local companies as possible.

The district hoped to have a gross maximum price for the critical access hospital’s construction by Aug. 23, Doorn told the board.

As Layton receives bids, it will “pore through every bid, cover every component” and negotiate with each company to adjust material costs and the scope of work to determine the gross maximum price, explained Mike Hunsaker, chief operating officer for the district and its managing partner, Star Valley Health.

The process to reach a gross maximum price typically takes several weeks, Hunsaker said. Once the figure is determined, the general contractor will begin the selection process for bidders based on criteria from the lowest bid to the number of lawsuits filed against a company.

If the gross maximum price comes in high, the district can conduct another round of value-added engineering, Hunsaker said.

Prospective companies are bidding for both the critical access hospital and long-term care facility as one project, Doorn clarified. The accounting will remain separate between the wings to ensure hospital invoices go through the USDA while the county receives financial documents for the long-term care end.

The SCHD is making progress with the Town of Pinedale to obtain demolition permits to tear down the Public Health building and the concession stand at the old ballfield, Doorn continued.

A moving company removed maintenance equipment in the Sublette Center’s auxiliary building, opening the space up for Public Health, said Doorn. Doorn credited Kari DeWitt, SCHD public relations director, for organizing the project.

Merger

The SCHD and Sublette Center are “dangerously close to getting a merger agreement signed,” stated Abbigail Forwood, the SCHD’s attorney on July 27.

A draft agreement was put on hold as the district and Sublette Center waited for news from the USDA, Forwood explained. The moment the USDA announced its approval, there was a “flurry of emails and discussions” between lawyers representing the SCHD and Sublette Center, she added.

SCHD Chairwoman Tonia Hoffman encouraged the attorneys to have a final draft ready for the upcoming Sublette County Board of Commissioners’ meeting on Aug. 2.

The commissioners expressed desire for a merger as soon as possible at its July 19 meeting, Doorn stated. The agreement between the SCHD and Sublette Center will “trigger” the transfer agreement between the SCHD and county and the $20-million pledge from the commissioners to fund the long-term care facility, he said.

Hoffman reiterated the district’s desire to make the transition for the Sublette Center seamless and that operations at the center would continue as normal. The district did not intend to make changes to the Sublette Center’s management, operations or staffing, she reassured.

 

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