Medical clinic could be used to house Public Health
Locating the Washington County Public Health Department in the Washington County Hospital Medical Clinic building is feasible.
Architect Brad Lang of Solum Lang Architects in Cedar Rapids presented a quick and brief feasibility study of the medical clinic that is attached to the Washington County Hospital and Clinics to the Board of Health’s Building and Finance Committee Tuesday afternoon. Those in attendance were Board of Health chair LaVerta Butterbaugh, County Supervisor and Board of Health member Jim Miksch, Public Health administrator Edie Nebel, Public Health fiscal administrator Peggy Wood, County Supervisor Wes Rich and Building and Finance Committee members Steve Olson, Terry Philips and Virginia Bordwell.
“We feel this space may adequately meet the needs of the department,” Lang said in the executive summary of the feasibility report.
The preliminary estimate of the costs to renovate the clinic is $772,250. Lang said this is not a precise estimate, but one that can be used for planning purposes. He said that a 15 to 20 percent contingency line might need to be added to the planning budget.
One drawback is that a space-needs assessment done in 2008 indicated the department needs an 11,000 square foot facility. The medical clinic has about 8,300 square feet available.
“The building essentially is a very sound building,” Lang said during the presentation. “There are certain parts of the building, particularly the mechanical system that you’re going to want to at least think heavily on making some improvements because there are some fairly substantial utility costs. There’s an old boiler and small condensing units and old air-handling units that were installed back in 1976. Technology has changed dramatically.”
The utility costs may be $30,000 a year, Lang said. He would want to look at some utility bills to see how accurate the $30,000 per year is.
“The building heating system is the original system installed when this wing of the building was first built and the major components are 34 years old and beyond their expected useful life,” the report states. Lang said that the operating efficiency of the current system is about 80 percent. Today’s efficiency ratings are in the 95 percent range.
Lang said it would be “very expensive to hook up to the hospital’s system.” However, Miksch favors that alternative.
One benefit at the clinic is the existing chart system. Lang said it is a very efficient system and “not cheap to buy.”
Wood said the system could hold up to 4,300 charts.
“We wouldn’t fill it,” Nebel said.
Lang also said that the building does not have a sprinkler system, which was not required in 1976. The costs to meet fire code would include adding fire-rated doors and halls.
The floor plan isn’t ideal, Lang said. The exam rooms in the clinics are smaller than standard office space. He said office furniture might need to be smaller than standard and therefore more expensive. There is no room for the Parents as Teachers program, which is now housed on the second floor of the former Washington Public Library, nor is there space for growth.
Lang has been working with the Board of Health on facilities since 2008. He designed a new building that could have been built on the Vetter property at a cost of approximately $2 million.
Olson said he thinks renovating the medical clinic might cost over $1 million. He said that he would want a 25- or 50-year lease before spending that $1 million.
Hospital officials have offered a $1 per year rent, plus the county and not the hospital would be responsible for paying any maintenance costs.
“Basically, from my understanding is, from the hospital wall your way, whether it’s boilers, mechanical rooms, roofs, you name it, you’re paying for it,” Lang said.
Finding funds to pay for the renovations or a new building is a problem.
Philips asked if the $750,000 or $1 million is doable financially.
For more, see our Feb. 16 print edition.