Fairbanks company to share in large hospital contract

Posted: Friday, February 22, 2002

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- A Fairbanks company was awarded a contract to help build a modern replacement for 51-year-old Bassett Army Community Hospital.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers awarded GHEMM Construction Co., and a national company, Dick Pacific Corp., the $178.3 million contract to construct the new hospital.

The project is scheduled to be completed in 2006, giving Interior active duty soldiers, their dependents and retired military members a more modern health care facility.

''Not often does a project of this size come to this area,'' said Bert Bell, president of GHEMM Construction Co.

Work on the proposed 259,500-square-foot building can start this spring. So far, $3.8 million has been spent on design.

The new facility will have 32 beds, down from the roughly 200 now at the Bassett. The reduction reflects the shift of medical care to preventive medicine and outpatient care.

''We'll see activity on the job site as soon as the weather and the frozen ground cooperates,'' said Army Maj. John Smith, chief of the Fort Wainwright's Health Facilities Planning Office.

Bid were canceled on the project last January after those that were received came in too high.

Congress had appropriated $133 million for the construction of the replacement hospital and demolition of the old hospital. But Sen. Ted Stevens, who has said the hospital is essential to Fort Wainwright's survival, secured an additional $82 million to proceed with the project.

Bell said Dick Pacific Corp. had the financial backing and GHEMM had the local contacts and knowledge of climate constraints to tackle the project. GHEMM also has done construction jobs at Fairbanks Memorial Hospital.

''We found that we deal the same way. We liked the joint venture,'' Bell said.

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