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New Hillsboro hospital still a priority

Staff writer

Gordon Docking, chief operating officer of HMC/CAH Consolidated Inc., recognizes why people might be skeptical about the chances of a new hospital being built in Hillsboro’s near future.

After the company purchased Hillsboro Community Hospital in the summer of 2008, people were told a new hospital was just around the corner. But the economy led to setbacks in that plan. In December 2010, the company’s capital partner for the project had to back out “at the 11th hour,” Docking said.

Since then, the company’s president has been working relentlessly to find a new capital partner. The company is in negotiations with firms in Texas and Florida, and Docking is optimistic. He said both sides want the deal to work.

“We want to get this project moving as badly as the people of Hillsboro want it to,” he said.

Hillsboro Mayor Delores Dalke said she has been talking with people behind the scenes about the hospital recently, and she hopes to be able to make an announcement soon.

The company’s business plan calls for building a new hospital in each community where they own a hospital, and Hillsboro is one of the top four priorities, Docking said.

If everything goes smoothly and quickly, construction could begin before January. Construction is estimated to take about one year, Docking said.

Docking visited the hospital recently to talk with the staff about the status of the project and what is planned, hospital chief executive officer Mike Ryan said. That raised people’s spirits, he said.

He said people driving by the empty lot at the intersection of Industrial Road and U.S. 56 might question the timeline, but he remains confident.

“I remain optimistic that this will happen,” Ryan said.

The company has incentive to begin work soon. An agreement with the city, which owns the current hospital building, gave the company free rent for 54 months, beginning in September 2008.

That agreement will expire in early 2013, and any new lease would have to be negotiated with the city then.

Dalke said she didn’t want to say what she would like the city to do in that instance, because she didn’t want to compromise the city’s negotiating position.

Last modified July 14, 2011

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