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Heliport funding for El Centro hospital approved

July 25, 2001|By RUDY YNIGUEZ, Staff Writer

El Centro Regional Medical Center will receive $500,000 to build its heliport.

President George W. Bush signed a $6.5 billion supplemental spending bill on Tuesday that addresses shortfalls in the Department of Defense, provides emergency assistance to communities impacted by natural disasters and provides relief to consumers affected by high energy costs.

The money for the local city-owned hospital comes from $1 million appropriated for seismic retrofitting at the now defunct Scripps Memorial East Hospital in El Cajon. The money remained unused and was diverted by Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Alpine, to two other hospitals as part of the appropriations bill.

The other hospital is Sharp Grossmont Hospital in La Mesa.

"With the closing of Scripps Memorial in El Cajon last year, health-care facilities in our area have been forced to absorb additional patients with limited resources," Hunter said in a statement. "These federal funds will be allocated for retrofitting requirements, providing these hospitals with the flexibility to use their remaining budget in a manner that will best provide emergency care to those in our community."


Hunter spokesman Mike Harrison said Bush signed the bill while visiting U.S. troops in Kosovo.

The money is expected to go toward El Centro Regional's heliport. The hospital is undergoing a renovation.

The $39.3 million renovation and expansion project, being financed through the sale of revenue bonds, 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 will include the lobby and other common waiting room areas, an isolation room, two labor/delivery/recovery rooms and other delivery room areas.

The 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.

To meet the state Seismic Compliance Act, SB 1953, the seismic improvements must be in place by 2008.

Construction began May 7.

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

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