Agencies OK $39.3 million in bonds for ECRMC

March 29, 2001|By RUDY YNIGUEZ, Staff Writer

Authorization to sell $39.3 million in revenue bonds to expand and seismically retrofit the El Centro Regional Medical Center was given final approval Wednesday night.

The action came after unanimous votes by the hospital's board of trustees, the El Centro City Council and the El Centro financing authority.

"This is a banner day for El Centro and all of Imperial Valley because we provide health care for all of the Valley," said El Centro Mayor Cheryl Walker after the votes.

Pat Miller, president of the board of trustees, said the approvals are the culmination of a tremendous amount of work by everyone involved, especially the community.


It was emphasized at the meeting that property owners in El Centro will not pay for the bonds.

Hospital outside attorney Kathleen A. Leak of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliff LLP of San Francisco, said bond holders will be paid through hospital revenues.

Hospital Chief Financial Officer Kathleen Farmer said the bonds will have an "AA" rating, where "AAA" is the best and "B" the worst.

The hospital's bond rating is that of the state of California as the state is the bond guarantor.

The project to be financed includes the construction and equipping of a new hospital building adjacent to the existing facility. The new building will be two stories and about 68,000 square feet. It will house a 20-bed emergency room, a 12-bed intensive care unit, a 48-bed medical/surgical unit, five surgery suites, two procedure rooms for in-patients and out-patients and an ambulatory surgery center.

Bond funds will be used to construct a new central plant to service the new building and to renovate the obstetrical wing of the existing hospital facility.

Renovation of the existing facility with bond proceeds will include the lobby and other common waiting room areas, an isolation room, two labor/delivery/recovery rooms and other delivery room areas.

These projects will cost about $34.1 million.

Of the remaining bond money, about $5 million will go toward the replacement of the current facility's roof and to install seismic bracing.

Another $500,000 in community donations will go toward building a helicopter pad.

Hospital Chief Executive Officer David Selman said the bonds should go on sale about April 12.

Construction should begin in May.

In separate action, the board of trustees voted to award a $25.2 million construction contract to San Diego-based Nielsen Dillingham Inc. to carry out the modernization, pending sale of the bonds.

Staff Writer Rudy Yniguez can be reached at 337-3440.

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