Hospital commission sets date to interview architectural firms

Friday, October 20, 2017

The Eureka Springs Hospital Commission is close to completing its first step toward renovating the hospital.

On Monday afternoon, the commission met to discuss the response to the city’s request for qualifications on the project. Mayor Butch Berry said five architectural firms sent in packets containing their qualifications and references, saying there weren’t any bad seeds in the batch.

“They’re all quality firms. They all have good qualifications,” Berry said.

Berry said he narrowed it down to the two firms closest to Eureka Springs: Morrison Architecture and Bates Architects. Both firms would do a good job for the commission, Berry said.

“We really wanted to try to be as objective as possible in coming up with recommendations,” Berry said. “Those two firms ended up as a tie. They were literally neck-in-neck. One had a little bit higher ratings on some issues, and the other one had a little bit higher rating on other issues. We felt both of those were good firms.”

Berry recommended that the commission interview representatives from both firms to make a decision, saying it’s too close to call judging only by the request for qualifications.

“The commission could come in and talk to them in person. We’ve seen their documentation. We’ve got their references,” Berry said. “I think either one of these firms that the commission would end up selecting would give you exactly what you’re needing to get started.”

Berry said Morrison Architecture has worked closely in the past with Allegiance Health Management, the company leasing the hospital, but Bates Architects has a history of working with hospitals in Northwest Arkansas.

“This is a serious issue. It’s something you’re going to work with. It’s something that’s going to be permanent in Eureka Springs for a long time,” Berry said. “It’s something we need to look at and give a great deal of consideration.”

Commissioner Barbara Dicks asked for Berry to be added to the meetings where the proposed renovations will be discussed, saying she’d like his input when the commission interviews the firms.

“As an architect, he knows the questions to ask,” Dicks said. “I’d feel more comfortable if he would be here at our interviews and our meetings and our selection.”

“I’d be glad to,” Berry said. “I was planning on being here and helping y’all out as much as I could.”

Commissioner John House asked how Berry narrowed the firms down, and he said it came down to several criteria.

“We had a list of items we basically asked for in our proposal regarding specialized experience, capacity and capability … record of performance, proximity and familiarity with the area,” Berry said.

“It’s something that’s at least objective,” House said, saying the commission would have a response if someone accused the city of showing bias.

“This is not an uncommon procedure,” Berry said. “This is done almost any time you go into state work or government work.”

The commission agreed to hold the interviews at 1 p.m. Monday, Nov. 13, at the Echo Community Room.

In other business, Catherine Pappas, community outreach director for the hospital, said the hospital is doing well.

“The hospital is staying full. These weekends are bringing a lot of tourists in,” Pappas said. “It’s showing how important our hospital is in this little area. We had more people coming in who were tourists with falls and simple things. It shows the hospital is extremely important.”

She added, “Our swing bed is doing well. That’s our program in the hospital that helps recuperate our patients to get better, so when they get home, they stay home. Our rehab is doing well. Everything is moving in a forward direction, a positive direction.”

Treasurer Bob Walling presented the financial report, saying the commission had $2,793,000 at the end of September.

The commission’s next regular meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday, Nov. 20, at the ECHO Community Room.

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