Hospital tackles renovation budget

Brian Larsen

The Cook County North Shore Hospital board of directors continues to look for ways to complete the renovation and expansion of the hospital. 
File photo/Rhonda Silence The Cook County North Shore Hospital board of directors continues to look for ways to complete the renovation and expansion of the hospital. File photo/Rhonda Silence In June 2015 when the hospital board was presented with bids totaling $25,700,000 for the $22.5 million renovation of the Cook County North Shore Hospital and Care Center, the board knew that cuts would have to be made to stay within budget, or the budget would have to change.

Over the last seven weeks some of both have happened, said Hospital/Care Center Director Kimber Wraalstad.

Helping the board pare down the list of changes/additions were members of Boldt, the construction company in charge of bidding projects and overseeing the work for the next two years, and employees of DSGW architects, who designed the project. Hospital/care center employees also gave their input into what could be cut or changed that would save money.

On June 15 the board reviewed 85 value-engineered changes that could pare down the project without hurting the overall concept of modernizing and upgrading the facilities. At that time Mark Welch, construction manager for Boldt, said his company was revisiting some of the bids and would target areas for more analysis and attempt to find more bidders in areas that included drywall, mechanical/electrical, masonry/tiling and roofing.

On June 29 the board met in special session and Walch gave an update about items that had been discussed and the status of finding additional bidders. Walch said the list of value engineering items had expanded from 88 items to 99 items. Several of the new items had been discussed but withheld from the first list until more information could be found, said Walch.

In order to bring costs down the board voted to eliminate the elevator shaft, the DDC dampers for exhaust fans, limit the roofing over the ER area, make changes to the standard patient steel counter top support brackets, modify the Care Center kitchen layout and change the solid surface finishes from A or B grades. The last change had to do with limiting the color choices for solid surfaces, said Wraalstad.

All told the board voted to reduce $1,240,039 from the bids. Still, there was a gap of about $1.5 million that needed to be covered.

Board Member Tom Spence asked if items were being deleted (or changes made) that would short-sight the goals and longterm benefit of the facility, but he was reassured that the long-term impact of these changes was considered before being put on the table for a vote.

Because there was still a hole in financing, Wraalstad said she would contact the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) about the possibility of expanding the direct loan due to the increased bids. On July 21 Wraalstad received confirmation of approval for $1.5 million more for the project from the USDA.

This will fit into Tom Spence’s June 29 motion to proceed with the building/remodel as proposed not to exceed $24,500,000 including LED lighting. Howard Abrahamson seconded that motion and board members Sharon Bloomquist, Justin Muller and Kay Olson approved it.

A groundbreaking ceremony was held Thursday, July 23, after this week’s News-Herald deadline.

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