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Nearly $500K approved for ECRMC

November 09, 2001|By RUDY YNIGUEZ,Staff Writer

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The House of Representatives on Thursday approved $490,000 for building a heliport at the El Centro Regional Medical Center, announced Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Alpine.

In late July, President Bush signed legislation providing $453,020 for the hospital for its seismic retrofit program, and though it was thought the money would be used for the heliport, it can actually be used for any part of the seismic retrofit.

The legislation approved Thursday by the House does earmark $490,000 for the helicopter landing pad, according to information from Hunter's office, which states the money is "to construct a federally approved heliport that would allow life-flight helicopters to land and discharge trauma patients directly at the facility."

El Centro Regional Director of Development Bill Lewis credited Hunter and county Supervisor Hank Kuiper with obtaining almost $1 million in federal aid for the hospital's $39 million upgrade.

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"These two guys are moving us toward $1 million on this project," Lewis said.

The $490,000 is not certain, however, as the legislation — a Veterans Administration/Housing and Urban Development bill — still must pass the Senate and be signed by Bush.

Meanwhile, the hospital's upgrades continue.

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.

Lewis said the new facility's footings have been poured and conduits installed. He said the building's slab should be poured toward the end of the month and then inspected. After that, tilt-up style walls will be installed sometime in January.

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

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