Sometime this evening, the SEARHC Board will stamp the transaction with its final approval. Wrangell's voters and Assembly have already gave their approval. On Nov. 1st, WMC staff will have a new signer on their paychecks.
Aside from tweaking a couple job titles, it should remain largely business as usual at the hospital. WMC will continue to provide the same services with the same staff. Our island will continue offering a level of healthcare that small communities, like Wrangell, can usually only dream of.
So that leads to a big question. SEARHC is building us a new hospital. When will that new hospital be open for business? For that answer, let's dissect the timeline portion of the last design update.
If you were at the community update in September, what you saw was the latest schematic design. If you want to take a look at that presentation in pdf form, it can be viewed here. The architects from Wold will be back next week, continuing the Design Development phase - which they describe as "figuring out where the light switches and outlets are gonna' go." While it's obviously not that simple, it paints a pretty clear picture of how far along in the design process we actually are.
Design should be done by the end of the year. SEARHC has stated that they don't want to miss out on the construction season and will get this out to bid as soon as possible. That would mean breaking ground in the spring of next year.
If they are able to meet those mileposts, SEARHC is hoping to cut the ribbon on the new joint campus on Wood Street January of 2021. It has even been mentioned in public meetings that December of 2020 is an ideal date to start seeing patients in the new facility.
As part of the transition, SEARHC has taken on financial responsibility of the current WMC facility. As you may have heard, after 50 years of service, the hospital is on its last legs. Some would say it's cheating death, and it's just a matter of time before some big ticket items start to fail. Big ticket items that will no longer be the responsibility of the City and Borough of Wrangell. Those will get fixed using SEARHC's checkbook. Given that, expect SEARHC to keep moving forward to ensure the project adheres to the above timeline.