SALEM – A public hearing is scheduled for 6:45 p.m. April 19 in the council chamber regarding new funding obligations sought by Salem Regional Medical Center, in part to help pay for a new $45 million facility at Columbiana .
Described as a non-vendor-based surgical outpatient ward, the new facility located near Firestone Farms on State Route 14 will include surgical, endoscopy, imaging, MRI and CT services, as well as a center non-chemo infusion.
SRMC President and CEO Dr. Anita Hackstedde spoke about the project on Tuesday with the city council’s finance committee, explaining what is planned and the need for new bonds not exceeding $65 million. The plan is to refinance the existing bonds used to build the SRMC patient bed tower and turn them into new bonds that will include money to part fund the new construction project.
Based on the finance committee’s recommendation, the city council approved an ordinance indicating the intent to issue hospital facility revenue enhancement and reimbursement bonds.
The city’s longtime bond attorney, Amanda Gordon, said the city was simply acting as an intermediary for the hospital to get the funds. The city is under no obligation and there is no cost to the city. It’s not the city’s money.
The actual bond issue will be presented to the board next month after the public hearing. Gordon said Tuesday’s order was just a first step in signaling she was coming.
The bonds will consist of $39 million to refinance the old bonds and an additional $21 million for the new project. The hospital will cover the rest of the new project with its own funds, including the cost of the surgical center.
Hackstedde said an outpatient facility like this may charge lower costs for services than those same services if provided in a hospital setting. She said the hospital is losing patients who are being told by their insurance companies to go to outpatient facilities for services. With this facility, she says, the goal is to get those patients back and get insurance companies to recommend the facility.
“The hope is to attract more volume”, she says.
The idea is also to reduce costs and improve access to health care.
Councilman Andrew Null, who chairs the finance committee, questioned why the hospital chose to go through Salem for the bonds since the project is under construction in Columbiana. It was explained that this was the most cost-effective route for the hospital to be able to refinance current bonds, which were used on a project in Salem, and finance the new project. Separate obligations for each would have been more costly.
Hackstedde explained that the new facility will not only serve Columbiana, but also people from across the region, including Salem. She did not see how this would negatively impact the town of Salem. She emphasized that the hospital takes all the risks for the obligations.
Employees of the new facility will pay income taxes to Columbiana. City Services/Safety Manager Joe Cappuzzello asked if Salem had ever been considered as a site for the new project, but Hackstedde said one of their goals was to reach beyond their walls. and their area. She said the project ultimately keeps the hospital strong.
The hospital has already started the project, with construction expected to be completed in the spring of 2023.
In other business, Councilor Cyndi Baronzzi Dickey said Gordon had said she would be available to hold a bond briefing at 6 p.m. on April 19.
Council members have agreed to meet twice a month, on the first and third Tuesdays, making the next council meeting April 5 at 7 p.m.
The Economic Development Committee will meet at 6 p.m. on March 22 for an update from the Center for Sustainable Opportunity Development.
The Utilities Committee will meet at 7 p.m. on March 22 regarding a NatureWorks grant for the Parks Department.