Soldotna hospital considers expansion

Posted: Tuesday, December 04, 2001

KENAI (AP) -- An expansion plan for Central Peninsula General Hospital in Soldotna could nearly double its square footage, put a satellite facility in Kenai and cost up to $70 million.

Hospital board President Diana Zirul said last week expansion plans are emerging from the hospital's two-year strategic planning process.

''There are many systemic and structural issues with the hospital,'' Zirul said. ''We have a number of space needs.''

She said the ceilings in the oldest part of the hospital are too low for today's medical technology and the layout could be improved.

The hospital opened 31 years ago and has been expanded twice. The hospital originally was designed to serve 5,000. It now serves about 34,000.

A preliminary plan calls for an expansion that could displace some homes along the periphery of the hospital campus. How the Kenai Peninsula Borough, which owns the hospital, would acquire the land has not been addressed.

''Whenever land in that area comes up for sale we ask the borough to consider it,'' Zirul said.

The strategic plan was drawn up with help from American Health Facilities Development of Tennessee.

The strategic plan estimates how many doctors, nurses and other staff might be needed 10 to 12 years in the future. Expansion in Soldotna would cost up to $60 million. The Kenai satellite would cost up to $10 million.

The strategic plan calls for 40 inpatient beds with a number of temporary beds for people to use while recovering from day surgery. The hospital now has 34 beds.

The proposed design moves the emergency room, surgery, X-ray and lab to close to each other. The plan calls for two surgery rooms.

''This is not a 'build it and they will come' situation. (The demand) is here,'' Jay Seigfreid, hospital chief executive officer. ''We're operating at full-tilt right now.''

The hospital will conduct a survey of what central peninsula residents think of the expansion plans.

The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly would have to approve and issue any bond to fund the expansion, though the bond would be paid off by hospital income.

''There will be no increase in the (property tax) levy,'' Zirul said. ''Our intent is to fund this through hospital revenue.''

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