Hospital commission agrees to reimburse city for public notices
The Eureka Springs Hospital Commission is finishing up one of the first steps toward renovating the hospital.
On Monday afternoon, the commission agreed to reimburse the city of Eureka Springs for money spent on public notices in the Carroll County News and the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Chairman Michael Merry explained that the public notices are a request for qualifications from architectural firms interested in taking on the renovation.
Kim Stryker, assistant to the mayor, said the city spent $196 for the Carroll County News and $202.50 for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, totaling $398.50. The commission voted to reimburse the city for that expense, and Stryker said the public notices have already drawn quite a bit of interest.
“We’ve been surprisingly inundated with calls from architectural firms from all over. We’ve gotten calls from Mississippi, Chicago and the Great Lakes area,” Stryker said. “It’s been a surprising amount of responses. If 5 percent of those end up submitting, it’ll be a nice-sized field.”
Hospital employee Vicki Andert said a few representatives from architectural firms have visited the hospital recently to check it out.
“If you get any calls from architects or engineers who want to come by the hospital, how we’ve been handling that is we’ve been telling them, ‘You’re welcome to tour the outside of the building. Take as many pictures as you want,’” Andert said. “We can’t let them inside the building. That would be a HIPPA violation, plus it would take time to tour them around.”
Merry thanked the hospital employees for cooperating with the renovation process, even in the early stages. He recalled receiving an update from Allegiance Health Management about the proposed performance bond for the renovations, saying Allegiance has requested to see drawings of the proposed renovations before agreeing to the bond.
“We will commit ourselves to spending whatever cost these drawings come up to in preparation for that final question,” Merry said. “That will determine if we move any further.”
The RFQs will be due at 2 p.m. Friday, Oct. 13. Merry said commissioner Barbara Dicks will represent the commission that day. Anyone who would care to join Dicks, Merry said, is welcome.
“We will gather at the following meeting after that with the mayor’s office,” Merry said. “They will have had them opened, but they will bring them in individually and discuss it with the commission.”
If other commissioners would like to be there when the bids are opened, Dicks said, they’ll have to let Stryker know.
“She will need to notify the press if there’s two of us,” Dicks said.
Merry said he understood.
“If one of us shows, it’s fine, but if two show, it has to be a representation of the commission,” Merry said.
In the meantime, Stryker said, city preservation officer Glenna Booth is working on getting the hospital added as a historic contributing building. Stryker said she was surprised the building wasn’t already on that list.
“It’s a long process to get a building declared as contributing. We’re losing other contributing buildings, and it really needs to be one,” Stryker said. “There are tax credits to be gained if and when this ever comes to fruition … tax credits that aren’t useful to the city, but they’re revenue producers.”
Also at the meeting, Andert introduced the hospital’s new physician Dr. Paul Daidone. Daidone has been in the Northwest Arkansas area for around 17 years, Andert said, and works in internal medicine. Daidone said he was happy to be in Eureka Springs, saying he lives in Springdale because his children attend school there. He will be working in the hospital and in the clinic, Daidone said.
“One of our biggest concerns is the fact that many of our physicians are retiring or approaching that point,” Merry said. “It’s been a serious concern for the community that we be able to replace these people as they retire. It’s so wonderful to have you in town.”
In other business, treasurer Robert Walling presented the financial report. Walling said the commission has $2,763,000 in its bank account, saying he’s been looking into the $63,000 in depreciation listed on the commission’s most recent audit. He’s been reaching out to the commission’s accountant, Walling said, but has had no luck.
“That’s the only thing that’s questionable on that whole report,” Walling said. “I would have no idea what it is. It’s very strange. It shows as an expense.”
Merry agreed to reach out to the accountant to resolve the issue.
The commission’s next regular meeting is scheduled for 1 p.m. Monday, Oct. 16, at the ECHO Clinic.