October 26, 2011

Well-Thy

Written by:

HUD Region 10 Public Affairs

Drive by a hospital and you may not think much about it.  In between now and then, there may not seem much reason to give the hospital a second thought.

Until, of course, you need one.  Even in the 21st century, lots of people live in towns that don’t have hospitals.  When their child has a fever that won’t break, someone’s wife has a baby that’s due, or their grandmother a breath that won’t come, they have to travel to a town that does.

Like Coquille, population 4,200 and the seat of Coos County in southwest Oregon.  It’s home to Coquille Valley Hospital. 

With 25 beds, it’s a long way from being the world’s largest hospital.  A very long way.

But, since it opened its doors in 1970, it’s been critical to the health of the more than 13,000 people who live and work and raise their families in the Coquille Valley.  Just ask the more than 4,500 folks who go to its emergency room every year.  Or the 18,000 who visit as outpatients.  Or the 700 who are admitted for overnight stays. Or the beaming parents of the 40 or so babies born there each year.

After 40 years of helping and healing, the hospital was beginning to show some wear and tear and was outgrowing its space.  The bricks and mortar just couldn’t keep up with the acquisitions of and advances in medical technology.

So, in what its chief executive officer Dennis Zielinski told KCBY-TV was a “labor of love,” the hospital embarked on a $26.5 million project to build a 3-story, 60,000 square-foot hospital replacement next to the current building.  The “new” Coquille Valley Hospital will have 18 private rooms, two surgical suites, a pharmacy and laboratory facilities.  Ground was broken in October 2010 with completion expected in the spring of 2012.

Construction is being financed by the AFL-CIO Housing Investment Trust using Build America Bonds provided under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.  The mortgage is insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), a part of HUD, under its Section 242 Hospital Mortgage Insurance Program which, since 1996, has supported the expansion and modernization of almost 400 hospitals nationwide.

And, in fact, there’s little question about the boost this project will provide in the Coquille Valley.  The 18-month construction project alone is expected to create 60 full-time jobs in the area – great news in a time and an economy where skilled craftsman have a hard time finding work – and pump more than $55 million into the economy.  Once completed, FHA estimates the project will support 125 full-time equivalent positions, generating another $9 million a year in economic benefits.  And thanks to the affordability of FHA mortgage insurance, the hospital itself should save some $1.5 million in interest costs over the life of the loan.

So, the next time you drive past a hospital, maybe you ought to give it a second thought.  After all, what’s true in Coquille is true for FHA-insured hospitals across the country – they not only contribute to the physical well-being of the people who use them, but also to the economic well-being of the community that they call home.

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