Hospital rebids remodel

"A 6,000-square-foot expansion and 20,000 square feet of remodeling is temporarily on hold at Whidbey General Hospital for the next four weeks while hospital administrators solicit a new set of bids.Construction bids that came in late last month for what is expected to be close to a $7 million project were too expensive for the hospital to accept. Scott Rhine, the hospital's administrator, said the low bid of $4.3 million from Bellingham's Dawson Construction was $200,000 over the $4.1 million the hospital has budgeted for the work. The hospital must now re-bid the job.New bids are due on Aug. 15, which will push the start of construction back at least one month. Work was to have started in late July.Given the green light for the project last September when Whidbey Island voters approved a $5.1 million bond, the hospital is planning to add outpatient care facilities to the hospital building, as well as more emergency and trauma care space. Remodeling of the existing building will carve out space for the hospital's magnetic resonance imager (MRI), which is currently housed in a temporary building, as well as expanded X-ray, CT scan, mammography and ultrasound machines and a new women's imaging center. The hospital will also receive a new, single. main entrance, which will replace the separate emergency and administrative entrances currently in use.To get bidding contractors to come down on their prices, Rhine said the hospital is cutting a few things out of the remodel plan, including a family waiting room in the hospital's surgery unit, and an enlarged respiratory care unit. The changes will also shorten the timeline for the project from about 18 months to 16 months.Cutting off two months for the contractor can save quite a bit of money, Rhine said.The total project cost will be considerably higher than the construction bids the hospital receives. Rhine said the hospital has to pay architect's fees and sales tax, and needs to buy additional medical and rehabilitation equipment. Also part of the job will be a new quiet room or chapel. The Whidbey Island Hospital Foundation will pay the $141,000 cost for the room from donations.The hospital underwent its last remodel in 1991, when the building's emergency room and surgery suites were updated. After the work was complete, the hospital had a total of about 100,000 square feet of floor space. The bond that paid for that remodel will expire in 2002.Rhine said property owners in Whidbey General's district will begin paying on the new bond as soon as the old bond is wiped out. He said taxpayers will notice little change in hospital assessments against their property. The assessment for the bond will be about 26 cents per $1,000 of property value through 2011. "

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