Southwest Memorial Hospital is considering asking for taxpayer help in financing part of a $13.1 million expansion project.
Officials plan to apply for a USDA loan to pay for $6.6 million of the project.
The Montezuma County Hospital District may ask voters in November to approve a limited sales-tax bond to help pay the loan back over 10 to 15 years.
“We’re exploring all options before we go to the taxpayers,” said MCHD chairman Brad Wayt. “A sales tax would be the most fair because it’s a county hospital serving the community at large. (If approved) we would all contribute a little, even tourists.”
The expanded campus would include a new inpatient wing, a new birthing center and an ambulance garage. The existing inpatient wing would be remodeled for primary care clinics and staff.
“We’re overdue for some modernization,” said CEO Kent Rogers. “We’ve run out of space, and need room to grow so we can better serve the community.”
Management of the 25-bed hospital is divided between two boards.
MCHD is a special tax district that owns the buildings and land. The district leases hospital operations to Southwest Health Systems, a private, nonprofit organization. Both boards are partnering to contribute funds for the upgrade.
MCHD has pledged $1.5 million from its mill levy revenue to help fund the project. Southwest plans to contribute about $300,000 per year toward the project, lease savings from consolidating its satellite medical clinics into the main campus.
A planning grant from the Department of Local Affairs has been approved for $200,000, and additional grant funding is being sought. Private donors have chipped in $135,000.
During a presentation to the Montezuma County Commission, hospital officials said modernization and expansion of Southwest will make it more competitive, allow for more specialists, and prevent patients from going to nearby hospitals.
“Both boards are really committed to this,” Wayt said. “It will take a community effort to make this a reality.”
Southwest employs about 400 people, including 22 physicians and 34 medical staff members. In 2014, it provided services to 214,131 patients and made 2,450 ambulance transports.