A groundbreaking ceremony planned at 9:30 a.m. Thursday morning, July 1, will signal the start of construction of a new EMS station and Hopkins County Hospital District headquarters.
Planning for the new station has been in the planning stages for about a year and a half. The structure will be built at 114 Airport Road on property located across the street from CHRISTUS Mother Frances Hospital Sulphur Springs that is owned by the hospital district. Three dilapidated houses were torn down on Airport Road to allow for construction.
The area by the current EMS station has also been pitched as a possible site for the new building. However, that property is in an area that frequently floods and would require a lot of dirt work to elevate it to prevent flooding and water retention. That property also has a large gas pipeline spanning across the front of the property, which would require paving over in order to build the station. The site for the new station has a higher elevation. It also already has access for utilities, the HCHD officials pointed out during the June 2020 board meeting.
Scott + Reed General Construction was approved by HCHD Board earlier this spring for the project, with design by REES Architecture.
The hospital district board over the past 6 months to a year have discussed whether to take out a loan to fund the new building. In December 2020, a Letter of Intent for the District to sell its remaining interest in CHRISTUS Hopkins Health Alliance joint venture to CHRISTUS Health received unanimous approval. Final negotiations continued through the spring.
CHRISTUS Health, in the letter of intent, offers to pay $27 million for the Hospital District’s 49 percent interest in CHHA. The finalization was expected to provide enough funding pay off HCHD’s remaining debts and fund the new station/HQ building. The Hospital District Board had projected the closing of the deal in either late April or early May.
“The Hospital District plans on paying for the building with current revenues and not doing a loan at this time,” Hopkins County Hospital District COO/EMS Director Brent Smith stated Tuesday afternoon.
HCHD, in the agreement, keeps all of the property on which and inside which CHRISTUS is operating, and was to reduce the overall lease payment from $3 million to $1 million.
The Hopkins County Hospital District will continue to provide indigent care financial support to the hospital, paying up to $2 million annually to the hospital for 5 years, $2.5 million from years 6-10, and rising to $3 million thereafter.
HCHD will also continue to own and operate the District’s EMS service. The agreement stipulates that Hopkins County EMS will continue serve as exclusive provider of EMS services to Hopkins, Rains, Franklin and Delta counties, during the lease term as long as those counties agree, including serving as the primary local EMS provider for CHRISTUS.
The new station planned replaces one consisting of a couple of combined trailers that have outlived their expected life expectancy, and have been experiencing structural issues that are costly to repair.
A grand opening ceremony and ribbon cutting for the new EMS facility are expected at the completion of the building, which is projected to take about 11 months, according to Smith.
All who wish to attend Thursday’s groundbreaking event are welcome. Parking is available at Cedar Crest Christian Church, just across the street from the site.