Hospital to break ground for largest phase of expansion |

Hospital to break ground for largest phase of expansion

The second and largest phase of Tahoe Forest Hospital’s expansion will begin May 3 when hospital officials shovel some topsoil for the groundbreaking ceremony.

The event, which marks the beginning of the hospital’s 47,000-square-foot addition, begins at 10 a.m. and will feature a catered reception, live music and tours.

“It’s going to be history in the making,” said Maia Schneider, campaign director for the Tahoe Forest Hospital Foundation’s capital campaign. “It’s the start of a whole new generation of healthcare in the community.”

The concept for the expansion originated with California State Senate Bill 1953, an act requiring all hospitals to retrofit, rebuild or close their general acute care inpatient hospital buildings by Dec. 31, 2007 if the building doesn’t meet strict new seismic safety standards.

“As a board we realized that to stay competitive with other hospitals in the area, we couldn’t deal with just an upgrade,” said Rob Eskridge, a Tahoe Forest Hospital board member and capital campaign co-chair. “We had to build to keep up with our growing community.”

Tahoe Forest administrators took the opportunity to update and expand their existing 50-year-old plant. The result: two new operating rooms, a remodel on existing facilities, and a 47,000-square-foot west wing addition set for completion in 2006.

“It’s a compromise between the old and the new. We’re not building the Taj Mahal here,” Schneider said. “We’re building a facility to keep up with our growing population.”

The estimated cost of the expansion and renovation project is $23 million – $19 million of which has been provided through revenue bonds and the hospital’s net operating revenue over a five-year period.

Hospital officials plan to raise the remaining $4 million through philanthropic support. So far, the campaign cabinet, comprised of 20 community members, has raised $2,946,254, according the foundation’s most recent campaign results.

“The groundbreaking is going on knowing that we’re going to raise the rest of the money for this campaign,” Eskridge said.

“It’s encouraging in spite of a tough economy,” he added.

The first phase of the fund-raising campaign, which included the hospital and foundation boards, employees, auxiliary volunteers and doctors, raised $520,000 in cash and pledges, according to Eskridge.

In the second, major gifts phase, $1.7 million rolled in from major donors and cabinet members. Local businesses donated another $680,000 to the campaign.

However, in the third phase of the fund-raising effort, called the “Community Phase,” may prove to be the most difficult due to the worsening economy. Toward the end of this summer, the cabinet members will send mailers and hold events asking everyone who lives and owns property in the Truckee-Tahoe area for a hand in the hospital’s expansion. The outreach will include second homeowners – more than 20 percent of the hospital’s revenue comes from patients who live outside the hospital’s service area.

“Frankly, every dollar is important,” Eskridge said. “If people just forego a case of beer or a trip to Reno, they might be able to help. [The hospital] really is a community asset.”

Everyone in the community is welcome to attend the groundbreaking ceremony on Saturday, May 3 at Tahoe Forest Hospital in Truckee from 10 a.m. to noon.

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