AMERICAN FALLS — After 60 years of housing patients and providing a comfortable place for people to have their health-related needs met, the Power County Hospital has received its own special kind of care that came right on time for the celebration of its 60th anniversary.
On April 27, the community came together for a ribbon cutting and open house for the newly finished hospital renovations that were completed over the course of the past three years.
“We had a good mix of people from the community that came out,” said Jacklyn Taylor, the marketing and foundation director and administrative assistant for the hospital. “It was nice to celebrate with the staff in having the construction done and completing the project. It’s been a long couple of years for everybody and we’re excited to finally be settling into the space.”
The three-year-long endeavor wrapped up with the completion of updates to the nursing home wing, the lobby, the emergency room, exterior features and more. In all, these renovations were completed at a cost of about $15.35 million.
The hospital, which hadn’t undergone any large renovations since it was built back in 1961, had passed a bond back in 2017 for $14.95 million that would provide the building with updates that included a new helipad and emergency room, new maintenance systems, a facelift in the nursing home residence, exterior restoration and more.
But due to economic changes and construction increases, the hospital found itself in a rut when the total expenses rose and several projects had to be put on hold until more funds could be collected.
Originally, the hospital board approached the situation by trying to pass another bond that would cover the rest of the expenses, but the vote never passed with a two-thirds majority.
This hiccup didn’t stop the hospital from getting the work done, however, and over the years the hospital board was able to use funds from savings.
“The hospital had $300,000 in savings that we were going to put towards the project,” Taylor said. “And then over the course of the last couple of years we were able to use some additional savings to help complete as much as we possibly could within the budget. We just really wanted to focus on finishing our patient care areas; they were a priority. So that’s what we got done.”
One large project that was cut was a new physical therapy building complex that would replace the trailers the hospital currently uses. And while they have no concrete plans for renovating the complex right now, they are looking through options in order to provide a more up-to-date facility to the public.
“I think the renovations can make a big impact to services and so we are excited about the future, to be able to expand and grow when we’ll have the funds to be able to complete some of those other projects down the road,” Taylor said. “They might just take a little longer. So we can’t do them right now but we’ll get to it eventually.”
Taylor said that during the entire renovation period, the hospital remained open 24 hours a day, seven days a week to provide needed services to the community, which at times was a challenge for the construction company.
“We definitely want to thank Construction Services Inc.,” she said. “We had to go through a lot together in the last two years and we know it was a difficult project. … So I appreciate them understanding our needs to keep things running while they’re updating everything for us.”
While the journey to renovate the hospital has been a drawn-out one, Taylor said hospital staff and faculty look forward to serving the community with new, up-to-date facilities that will help them better serve the public’s needs.
“We’re just grateful that the community supported the bond and these updates, they really needed to get done,” she said. “The building was 60 years old, and we were at the point where we needed to do these renovations to move forward in the future to provide better care for our community and help with provider recruitment and doctors and expand services that people ask for. And now that we’ve had these updates done to the facility ... it makes it so much easier for all of us to move forward.”