A Wisconsin firm has been selected to design and build the new Curry General Hospital in Gold Beach, bringing a new facility one step closer to replacing an aging one that has served the community for more than six decades.
The Erdman Company has built more than 550 hospital projects valued at more than $2.4 billion in the past decade, officials said.
"This is really exciting," said Curry Health Network CEO Andrew Bair. "We'll have a health-care organization with an appropriate modern facility. This facility was built for a different time and a different era. We'll be able to inspire more confidence in the community; we'll have health care we can be proud of."
Voters in the Curry Health Network district, which extends from the county's northern border to Pistol River and east to Agness, approved a $10 million bond last November to go toward the estimated $18 million cost to replace the 63-year-old hospital.
The bond will also pay for improvements at the Port Orford clinic.
Hospital officials are now working with federal agencies to obtain funding to make up the difference, said CEO Andrew Bair.
The passage of the bond was critical for health care in Curry County. The state threatened to close the Gold Beach facility in the summer of 2016 as the building is not up to code. Repairing it was not financially feasible, officials said.
Curry General Hospital shut its operating room for two months last summer because it was out of compliance with the state; that closure cost the hospital $600,000 in lost revenue, Bair said. The facility only recently reopened for obstetric services.
"We expect with Erdman that the community will have a healing environment that promotes greater well-being for our patients, and a hospital that is also operationally efficient," Bair said.
That's been a challenge for the aging facility, with even its outside appearance making it difficult to recruit and retain physicians.
Without a hospital in Gold Beach, some patients would lose the so-called "golden hour," during which time those suffering traumatic injury - from car wrecks to heart attacks - must receive definitive care to have the best medical outcome.
If the hospital were to close, it has been contended, numerous families might move away, taking jobs with them and dramatically increasing the time to get medical care.
Without Curry General Hospital, the urgent care facility in Brookings would also be unable to obtain emergency room status. The city and hospital are negotiating how to "share" the hospital's license by splitting the number of hospital beds between the two facilities.
If Brookings can have a designated emergency room, patients needing medical care in a larger city would not have to be first transported to Gold Beach or Crescent City, stabilized and released by an emergency room physician to that more definitive care.
That issue is a separate one the hospital board is addressing and has nothing to do with the $10 million bond the citizens approved last year, Bair said.
The Erdman team - four members of which were on site last week - presented conceptual drawings to the hospital district board.
The drawings are preliminary and do not reflect site placement, the possible number of floors, the size and number of rooms or other details, as those have yet to be determined.
But the wish list includes two operating rooms and a procedure room, core services such as a laboratory, imaging and inpatient rooms; an intensive care unit, obstetrics, emergency room, physical therapy, a clinic, pharmacy, room for business and administration, a chapel or grieving room, space for materials management and a helipad.
Nothing has been finalized, Bair emphasized.
The board will host "visioning meetings" in Gold Beach and Port Orford the week of April 21 so the public can see what the firm has in mind. Dates and times will be announced closer to the time.
A new facility could generate more services and profits, which could allow the hospital to potentially have services such as dialysis, which many in the community have requested.
Groundbreaking, in a best-case scenario, could take place in November, Bair said.