Appearing before Dayton City Council on Monday, Oct. 19, C. Bruce Stratton, local attorney and president of the Liberty County Hospital District No. 1, shared plans for a new hospital to replace Liberty-Dayton Regional Medical Center’s current site at 1353 N. Travis St., Liberty. The new site will be located on a 35-acre tract on the southwest corner of the intersection of FM 1011 (Governors Road) and SH 146.
The large tract is currently known as the Hospy-Pickett Farm, said Stratton, and is being donated to the hospital district for the purpose of building a new hospital that will serve Liberty County.
In a statement on Friday, Stratton said the leadership of the hospital and the hospital district are committed to the long-term strategic goal of providing and improving care to the community.
“We have determined that in order to maintain our ability to provide first class care, and ensure that the services we provide will continue to be available well into the future, we need to work towards the development of a replacement hospital. With this goal in mind we have identified and brought on specialists with experience in critical access hospital market analysis, financial feasibility, and project development to help us gather information and make the best decisions to ensure the vital services we provide will be available for future generations of Liberty County residents,” the statement reads.
The feasibility process for a new hospital began in the summer of 2019 with the consideration of the existing site in Liberty and identifying new sites in the cities of Liberty and Dayton. It was determined early in the process that the cost to remodel and expand the existing hospital facility in Liberty was not financially feasible due to the age of the facility and its condition.
The original construction on the site began in 1950, and although improvements and additions have been made over the years, the current building still has significant mechanical and electrical system limitations, and its current configuration makes it difficult to accommodate current medical technology and meet the overall objective to better serve our community and expand our services.
“As leadership began to explore our options for a new site, we were limited by the requirement to maintain a hospital campus within the approved boundaries of the Hospital District, formed in 2005. With those parameters, hospital leadership reached out to city leaders to confer on site options, and gather input about the needs of our county,” the statement continues. “The cities of Dayton and Liberty, as well as Liberty County, all provided excellent information and support during this process. Possible new locations were identified and a site comparison analysis was commissioned and completed. At the completion of this process, it was determined that some options would not be feasible due to the site size, topography and access to the property.”
During the site comparison process, a market analysis was also performed. That analysis looked at the services offered, population projections, competition for patients, and overall market share. In particular, a prospective site in Dayton saw a higher long-term population projection, but the market analysis also identified other competitive forces that might negatively impact the long-term viability of a new hospital located in that location.
“We have identified a site within the Liberty city limits that provides several advantages as a location for the potential new hospital. Perhaps most importantly, the site was offered as a donation to the Hospital District, significantly reducing project costs and the time necessary to complete the property acquisition process. This site consists of 35 acres, is easily accessible, and is currently undeveloped, thus avoiding any demolition period and related costs,” the statement continues.
In addition to the site comparisons and market analysis, a financial feasibility study was performed. Again, while the identified site in Dayton showed a potential for more rapid growth in the future utilization of services, the prospective Liberty site projected to capture more reimbursement from capital costs due to a higher Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement mix.
With each study completed, and given the information available, the Hospital District Board of Directors ultimately met in a special session last month and approved a motion to formally select the site in Liberty for the potential replacement hospital.
“The Hospital District and the hospital leadership team are very grateful for the support and cooperation of both the cities of Dayton and Liberty, and of Liberty County throughout this process. Recognizing the needs of our citizens, the District is also pleased to announce that a process has begun for selecting a site in Dayton to open a new rural health clinic. More detailed plans for the Dayton clinic will be released in the near future,” the statement reads.
Now that a site for the replacement hospital has been selected, the hospital leadership team will work to identify funding sources, and proceed with site soil tests and preparing a site survey. A Phase 1 environmental assessment survey will also be performed, and the leadership team will seek out and hire an architect to provide a design for the new hospital, allowing time for citizen input.
A bond referendum for this important project is currently expected to be held during the May 2021 election cycle. Construction is tentatively scheduled to commence during the first quarter of 2022 and the hospital would be completed and open to the public in the summer of 2023.