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CMH plans $77M in campus expansion

Groundbreaking is planned next year with a targeted 2026 completion

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Roughly $77 million in federal funding and local bank loans will go toward expansion and renovation work by Bolivar-based Citizens Memorial Hospital.

CMH was approved last month for nearly $57.8 million through the U.S. Department of Agriculture Community Facilities Direct Loan Program, according to federal officials.

Additionally, several local banks are partnering with the USDA to provide $19.3 million in loans for the project, which represents almost 125,000 square feet in upgrades and additions for the current 121,000-square-foot hospital.

“This is a big deal for CMH and for the Bolivar community,” said Michael Calhoun, CEO and executive director of the health care system and the Citizens Memorial Health Care Foundation.

“It’s going to give us state-of-the-art facilities for our in-patient care. We provide great services now in the facilities that we have, but it will really take us to the next level.”

Calhoun said the entire project will take about three years to complete once ground is broken.

“The timeline we have right now says about 12 months, so late next spring or early next summer is our estimate,” he said of the groundbreaking date.

HMN Architects Inc. is on board as the project’s architect, but Calhoun said the general contractor selection process is still months away as the design plan is finalized.

“There’s a lot of planning and preparatory work that goes into getting ready to put it out for bids,” he said. “That’s what we’re working on right now.”

CMH officials say the health system is locked in at a 35-year fixed rate of 2.5% for the USDA loan.

In the plan
Renovations and expansions are planned for the main CMH building, which was constructed in Bolivar in the 1980s and expanded in the 1990s and early 2000s, according to USDA Rural Development Missouri State Director Kyle Wilkens. He said the USDA also provided funding for the existing facility.

The hospital’s emergency department, surgical unit, and intensive care and progressive care units will be expanded by 102,500 square feet, with 22,250 square feet of renovations.

Other planned improvements include transitioning all medical and surgical rooms to private from semiprivate; increasing pediatric rooms to six from one; boosting ICU beds to 12 from eight; adding a third operating room and the shell for a fourth operating room; adding a six-bed unit for behavioral health patients within the emergency room; and constructing two cardiac catheter units and replacing the current modular unit.

“Our emergency room right now is approximately 30% too small for our current volume,” Calhoun said. “We’re going to increase capacity from 12 rooms to 21 rooms. That’ll help improve throughput, as patients will be seen more timely.”

The addition of new catheterization units will allow cardiology cases handled at the hospital to increase, he said. CMH also plans to consolidate its laboratory department, which is currently in three locations on campus.

“This addresses so many of the issues that have arisen because of growth,” Calhoun said, noting the health system has an eight-county service area. “Not just our hospital, but the amount of patients that we take care of in our hospital and our outpatient areas has just grown tremendously over the last 40 years.”

CMH was recognized as the No. 10 fastest-growing company in Springfield Business Journal’s 2022 Dynamic Dozen awards. The health care system reported 2021 revenue of $573.1 million, representing three-year growth of 8%. Its employee count also grew last year to 2,208, a 2.5% increase since 2019.

Calhoun said a new tower will be constructed on the hospital’s south side for the project’s first phase. A new hospital entrance is also in Phase I’s work, replacing the current one at the building’s west side. Phase II calls for a new emergency department and ambulance garage, while construction on new parking and a road that loops around the south and east sides of the campus will be addressed in multiple phases. The Birth Place, the health system’s obstetrics wing, also will be updated in an unscheduled phase.

Demonstrating need
Wilkens said the USDA loan isn’t a competitive process, as Congress appropriates funds annually for the program.

“It’s strictly on when they apply and if the applicant meets the eligibility requirements,” he said.

The applicant must be in a rural area and demonstrate a need for the improvements, and this requires submitting a preliminary architectural review and a feasibility study that documents repayment ability, Wilkens said. Having outside lender participation can help, he added.

“We had multiple local banks come forward and say they would support us in this process,” Calhoun said, declining to disclose names until after all the loan agreements are finalized. “Now that the announcement is out, I predict there’s going to be some [banks] that are going to come forth saying, ‘We want to help, too.’ We’re still in the early stages of this.”

Although CMH didn’t apply for the USDA loan program until last fall, Calhoun said the desire to upgrade and expand its hospital has been a long process.

“We’ve been working with them on concepts for the last couple of years,” he said of the USDA. “They do a good job of vetting out who gets the funds, and they want to make sure it will be a viable project that’ll help a rural community and is a wise investment.”

Wilkens said CMH fulfilled all the loan requirements, adding, “This is exactly the kind of project this kind of program was made for.”

As CMH marks its 40th anniversary this year, the project is an investment for the future, Calhoun said.

“It’ll be something as we’re planning it not with just the next year or two in mind, but the next 30 or 40 years,” he said.

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