2012-09-20 / Front Page

SMH official addresses rumors

Despite speculation, project on schedule, within budget


Crews are shown on the Schoolcraft Memorial Hospital new building site on Wednesday. SMH officials maintain the building project is on time and within budget. The hospital is, however, attempting to raise money for new equipment. 
Pioneer Tribune photo Crews are shown on the Schoolcraft Memorial Hospital new building site on Wednesday. SMH officials maintain the building project is on time and within budget. The hospital is, however, attempting to raise money for new equipment. Pioneer Tribune photo MANISTIQUE – As with any multi-million dollar project, rumors about financial woes of Schoolcraft Memorial Hospital’s new facility have cropped up throughout the area. According to hospital officials, however, these rumors are simply not true.

Robert Root, SMH Board of Trustees member, recently explained that the approximately $24 million project continues to be on schedule and within budget. In fact, he noted that, because of their budgeting, the hospital has been able to include some upgrades within the building.

“These upgrades include installing locally quarried limestone veneer in the public corridor of the hospital and adding a high quality floor cover in the patient rooms,” Root said. “Some of the upgrades will not be so obvious to the public, but includes things like an automated HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) building management system and a 24/7 monitoring system for the hospital’s most critical equipment.”

Despite these financial accomplishments, rumors about the hospital being over budget and exceeding their means have been circulating the community and beyond. Root said he has an idea as to why these rumors began.

“Our original major medical equipment budget was based on reusing some of our existing equipment,” he explained. “It is our desire to provide our community with the best technology available. So we are exploring ways to finance new equipment where we feel our existing equipment has reached its useful life or is outdated.”

In searching for financial options to obtain the equipment, Root said the hospital will be looking for savings in the construction budget, conducting fundraising events, by continuing their capital campaign, and, if necessary, by seeking outside funding.

“The hospital isn’t supported by any local taxes or millages, so we need to consider all other options to keep our hospital the best critical care facility in the UP.,” he added.

Don Perigo, chairperson for the SMH Board of Trustees, said the board and hospital are hoping for a successful capital campaign, despite the current state of the economy.

“We set a long term fundraising goal of about $1.3 million,” he said. “This was determined by a feasibility study conducted five years ago that suggested we could probably raise $1 million … with a lot of work.”

While this study was done before the economy took a turn for the worse, Perigo said the board remains optimistic about the campaign and are happy with where they currently stand. To date, the campaign has received financial support from board members and hospital staff, he explained. The next step will be to take the drive to the public.

“We are probably about 70 percent of the way to our total goal,” said Perigo. “We are excited, but this is tempered with the economy, because it is not the easiest in this economy, but we are certainly still optimistic.”

According to Root, the building is estimated to be completed in the first week of March 2013. After this, the installation of medical equipment, personnel training, a public open house, and the cleaning and sanitizing of facility for final occupancy will take place. The official movein date is anticipated to be mid- April 2013.

“If we haven’t hit our total number dollar amount (in the capital campaign), will the hospital not open? No.” said Perigo. “This will be a quality asset to the community and something everyone can be proud of.”

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