Oroville will support hospital's bid for grant

OROVILLE – Oroville has agreed to be the administrating agency should North Valley Hospital’s request for as much as $600,000 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) monies be approved by the state.

The Oroville City Council made their decision following a public hearing scheduled for their Tuesday, Jan. 5 meeting. The money will be used to complete a physicians’ clinic on the second floor of the old hospital facility, according to Barbara Engstrom, a consultant from Wenatchee-based Grants Management Northwest.

The hospital district first approached the council at the end of 2009 to request support for a more ambitious CDBG request of over $1 million to finish the basement below the new hospital addition being built with a voter-approved $11 bond.

Engstrom said, “At that point we thought we would finish the basement, but now the board has decided to relocate the outpatient clinic by renovating some of the old facility.”

Engstrom told the council that Community Development Block Grants are federally funded through the state. Washington State has about $15 million in these grants available, she said

“This request is scaled down from what we were asking,” said Engstrom.

“The highest priority is patient care, so they really needed more space,” added Dave Franklund of KDF Architecture. “The process of moving the surgery to the basement is too much. This project would be doable and costs about $600,000 for a first class medical clinic.”

Franklund said connecting the basement to new infrastructure like electrical, heating and cooling would most likely mean the project would have had higher costs than what the district wanted to ask for in a CDBG grant.

“We would likely be asking much less than $600,000 to build the clinic on the second floor of the old facility,” said Engstrom.

“I feel very confident we can do it at these costs,” said Franklund, who adds the new second-floor clinic would be served by the existing elevator. “Doing the project in the basement would have been more difficult,” Franklund said.

The board’s main reasoning for moving and building a clinic on the second floor is two-fold, according to Franklund.

“The physicians produce revenue for the hospital and the physicians that work there cover the Emergency Room, which saves money by not having to contract for ER doctors outside the hospital,” he said.

Helen Casey, chairwoman for the hospital board, said the board appreciated the council’s consideration of the district’s request.

Oroville will act as a pass-through for the grant funding and will have some administrative duties, but Engstrom assured the body that her office would handle most of these and give the city regular updates and reports. There is also money in the grant to pay for Oroville’s administrative time, according to Engstrom.

“There will be a sub-agreement that transfers the work and liability to the hospital district,” she said. “There should be minimal work impact on the city.”

Kathy Jones, Oroville’s clerk/treasurer, said she had checked with two other entities that received CDBG grants that Engstrom has worked with and that she got “really good reports” and assurances that they involved a minimum of work.

“What is the time frame?” asked Councilwoman Neysa Roley.

“Talking to Dave (Franklund) he is looking at a completion in about six months, starting the project in late summer, August or September, with a good three months of construction,” said Engstrom, adding, “We should close out by January of 2011.”

Clay Warnstaff, Oroville Chief of Police, asked what was the possibility for Oroville to get the grant considering the hospital district had already tried for two Community Development Block Grants for different projects through Tonasket.

Engstrom said the state has indicated that they feel this grant is “a good fit,” but it depends on what other project requests the CDBG program gets.

“The timing is real good and one of the reasons why is this particular group of doctors also carry out the ER duties… it is really important to have this clinic located as part of the hospital,” Franklund said.

Councilman Ed Naillon said he has had an opportunity to see a lot of medical facilities in the last year and the opportunity to have treatment in Tonasket, including use of the new CT scanner.

“They treat you good down there,” said Naillon, who added his daughter had recently had an operation at North Valley Hospital and the fact it is so close and saves going to Omak or Wenatchee for treatment is a big positive for him.

“I move to support keeping the dollars in our boundaries and because of the fact it is also a big employer of people living in the Oroville and Tonasket areas,” Naillon said.

“I recently had one gentleman comment to me about the great care he had gotten at the hospital,” said Mayor Chuck Spieth.

Councilman Tony Keopke seconded the motion and it was unanimously approved.

The hospital district came to Oroville to ask that they apply for the grant for the hospital rather than Tonasket because Oroville does not have plans to file for a CDBG grant this year, while Tonasket does have and can’t apply for two at the same time. The hospital district can not apply for the grant on its own and needed Oroville or Tonasket to act as the lead on the application.