Hopkins County Hospital District and EMS broke ground Thursday morning at the site of what will become a new HCHD headquarters and EMS Station, marking what HCHD COO and EMS Director Brent Smith calls a milestone for Hopkins County EMS.
Approximately 30-40 attended the HCHD groundbreaking, including city and county fire department officials, EMS officers and personnel, HCHD board members and officers, elected city and county officials, Chamber of Commerce representatives, CHRISTUS Mother Frances Hospital Sulphur Springs officials and associates, representatives from REES architecture, and Scott and Reed contractors.
The groundbreaking ceremony began at 9:30 a.m. on a humid Thursday, July 1, 2021, at 114 Airport Road, with an introduction by HCHD CEO/CFO Ron Folwell. HCHD Board Chair Kerry Law the recognized the many individuals who took part in the 16-month planning process for the new EMS station/hospital district headquarters.
Law expressed appreciation to HCHD COO/EMS Director Brent Smith for a “great job” on the project from ideas to design. The project, Law said, would not have happened without Smith.
“We’ve been needing a new EMS facility for a long time. What we have if falling down. We’ve been planning this for some time,” Law said.
Law thanked Alliance Bank for the financial institution’s willingness to loan HCHD the money for the project if it was needed. The project is being funded with money received from a deal giving CHRISTUS their shares in CHRISTUS Hopkins Health Alliance, and putting enough money in the HCHD’s coffers to pay off all of HCHD’s outstanding debt, including bonds taken out in previous years, and to fund construction of a building to serve as HCHD’s new headquarters and EMS station.
HCHD/EMS enjoys a great working relationship with CHRISTUS Mother Frances Hospital Sulphur Springs CEO Paul Harvey, his staff and hospital district personnel, which benefits the community and helped better facilitate the deal with CHRISTUS, according to Smith. HCHD and CHRISTUS closed on the deal transferring the remaining shares of the Hospital District’s share in the Health Alliance on April 30.
Smith too offered thanks to the building subcommittee which included HCHD Board members Kristi Schultz, Dr. Bill Dietze and Chris Brown, as well as Meredith Caddell who provided design input when they began the part of the design process that involved selection of carpeting and colors for the interior of the facility, and to the continued support from city and county elected officials.
As part of the deal HCHD will continue to own the hospital property. CHRISTUS, however, will be over all operations and activity at the hospital, and will pay HCHD an annual rental fee for use of the facilities, while HCHD will pay a specified amount into the the indigent care fund annually, with amounts in the indigent care fund increasing approximately every 5 years, according to the original basic terms reported for the agreement between the two entities.
HCHD is hoping the project will cost $4 million or less, but could change due to continued high costs of construction materials. Rees is the architect for the building and Scott and Reid are general contractors.
Emergency Medical Services in general have come a long way since the 1980s and Thursday morning marked a milestone for Hopkins County EMS, which has been in operation for nearly 40 years (or will be in 2023). HCHD started the EMS service in 1983, taking it over from the city fire department, which about a year previously had picked up the service previously handled by funeral homes.
The new facility will allow Hopkins County EMS to conduct in-house training and education opportunities in the conference room in the new station. Currently, any training is conducted in Plaza across from the hospital and current facility, provided space is available.
It is designed with four bays which will allow the EMS service to park six ambulances as well as the Ambus, better protecting the expensive assets. The cardiac monitor inside the MICU (mobile intensive care) units alone cost as much as most people’s cars. That will benefit the community in cost savings in repairs and replacements the EMS service would have if they were unable to house the ambulances out of the weather.
The new EMS/HCHD facility is planned not only to accommodate current staff and needs, but for potential future department growth as well, Smith noted.
HCHD President Kerry Law, board member Joe Bob Burgin, CEO Ron Folwell, COO Brent Smith were joined by Scott + Reid and REES representatives in turning a couple of shovels full of earth. This officially kicked off the construction phase of the building project.