Adventist plan gets smaller price tag
White Oak location to save $96.2 million due to drop in construction costs
The economic downturn may have left the county budget and housing market in tatters, but representatives from the new White Oak location of Washington Adventist Hospital say they've found a silver lining.
The hospital will cost roughly $96.2 million less to construct than originally planned, hospital President Jere Stocks said at Wednesday's meeting of the East County Citizens Advisory Board. He credits the savings to deflation of the cost of materials like concrete and steel, a shortened construction timeline and fiscally-responsible engineering.
"Back in 2005, we were really nervous," he said of when the project was originally announced. "We were really concerned because of the rate of inflation."
The project's new price tag is about $468 million, Stocks said. And he added that contractors were sure to design the hospital for exactly what is neededno more, no less. He also said hospital executives have worked with architects and contractors to shorten the construction time by a year, from 36 to 24 months.
"We're trying to make sure it's a nice facility, but it's not a palace; it's not a hotel," he said. "We shouldn't be building a Taj Mahal."
The hospital will sit on 23 acres of a roughly 48-acre plot of land on Plum Orchard Drive near Cherry Hill Road and Route 29. It will have 288 beds in mostly single-occupancy rooms, along with emergency services, a center for spiritual life and healing, outpatient care and a lakeside walking trail.
Stocks said the hospital's administration revised the certificate of need, a document filed with the state before the permitting process, to reflect the cost savings. Since filing the certificate in April, the hospital has been answering questions, clarifying information on the hospital's design and accepting public input on the plan.
Hospital representatives said they're hopeful the certificate will be processed in January, allowing construction to start in the third quarter of 2010.
Though none of the project is publicly funded, Stocks said the savings will allow the hospital to better serve the community. Last year, the hospital boasted $29 million of uncompensated care, or care in which the patient could not afford to pay. Adventist was the highest provider of uncompensated care in Montgomery County, according to Stocks.
Uncompensated care is especially important at the White Oak location because of the diversity of the population surrounding the hospital's future site, Stocks told the board.
He hopes the construction savings can help continue these services, among others.
"It's money that we don't have to spend which will ultimately allow us to expand our services," Stocks said. The savings will help the hospital remain financially strong in the future, which will in turn help improve care, he later said in a phone interview.
Once the certificate of need is processed, the hospital will be able to break ground.
"It's really coming together," Stocks said. "I think you guys are just going to be stunned."