ES hospital commission gives Allegiance deadline to evaluate plans

Friday, August 24, 2018

The Eureka Springs Hospital Commission is waiting on Allegiance Health Management before moving forward with proposed renovations.

On Monday afternoon, the commission voted to give Allegiance 90 days to evaluate four proposed plans for the renovations. Chairman Michael Merry said Diane Adler of Bates Architects will be meeting with Allegiance CEO Rock Bordelon in Shreveport, La., to discuss the proposed plans, saying he’s not sure when the commission will receive Allegiance’s input.

“They were wanting to put us off until they concluded other business, so I don’t really think their lack of immediate response is any serious threat right now,” Merry said.

Commissioner Barbara Dicks said she thought Bordelon planned to come to Eureka Springs to talk about the project, and Merry said that was the original plan.

“But that was 90 days ago, and who knows what has changed since then?” Merry said.

Commissioner John House said he looked over the four proposals and prefers Option D, which would cost $13.5 million and maintain the 1929 building. House said he’s not sure the hospital needs a geriatric psychiatric facility, which Allegiance requested to be included in the proposed plans. Still, House said, Option D is the best choice for the future of the hospital.

“It is the most affordable, and it allows for future expansion,” House said.

“I’m inclined to agree, because that option maintains the character of the external building better than any other option,” Merry said. “That’s really a critical point to most of the folks in town.”

House said he recently re-read the commission’s lease with Allegiance and found a few problems. A wall is close to falling off the surgical unit, House said, and the refrigeration doesn’t always work.

“They are required to keep the building in full working order,” House said. “I’m very concerned about that issue.”

House asked how long the commission had to wait until Allegiance gave input on the proposed plans, and Merry said he wasn’t sure. There needs to be a timeline, House said, even if that means the project falls through.

“At some point, Bates is going to say, ‘We’re going to close this project, because we’re not moving forward,’ ” House said. “We need to have an answer from Allegiance, and if they’re not willing to do it, then we shelve it and start making them fix the things that need to be fixed.”

House moved to give Allegiance 90 days to report to the commission, and the commission agreed to do so. House said he’s still optimistic about the project.

“I think it’s going to be wonderful for our hospital and our community. I really do,” House said.

The commission’s next regular meeting is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 17, at the ECHO community room.

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