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September 27, 2011

 

Hospital expansion plans reduced

7 more properties might be acquired in next 5 years

HospitalBob Ellis/staff photographer
Cortland Regional Medical Center is seen in the distance, across an empty lot the hospital owns at the corner of VanHoesen Street and Homer Avenue.

By STEVE HUGHES
Staff Reporter
shughes@cortlandstandard.net

Cortland Regional Medical Center revealed a scaled down master plan for the next five years at Monday night’s city Planning Commission meeting.
The plan includes far fewer improvements than the proposed expansion the hospital had considered in recent years. A $25 million expansion project was canceled last year.
Over the next five years the hospital plans to acquire up to seven more properties, renovate the inside of the hospital, repave and reseal several parking lots and possibly replace two boilers, said Denise Wrinn, the hospital’s chief financial officer and vice-president of finance.
The houses to be acquired are located on Alvena Avenue and Loope Street and will be torn down to provide more parking, Wrinn said.
“We’re not actively looking to purchase them but we will if they become available in the next five years,” she said.
The main reason behind the scaled down plans was financial, according to Wrinn.
“Unless the way health care works in this county changes and we fall into a pile of money, we won’t be expanding,” she told the commission.
The commission’s main concern remained whether the hospital would continue to purchase nearby properties, which would remove them from the city tax rolls, said Commissioner Jo Schaffer.
“More than 50 percent of the city is off the tax rolls,” she said. “The city needs to have income.”
The hospital’s immediate plans are focused on resealing three existing parking lots over the next year.
By next spring it wants to begin renovating the interior of the main campus and repairing the driveway and sidewalks leading up to the main entrance.
The only two possible new buildings would be a permanent home for an MRI machine on the main campus and a place to house the new boilers, said Wrinn. Right now the hospital uses a mobile MRI machine that is housed in a tractor-trailer. The hospital also has a machine in its West Road building.
The hospital’s boilers were built in the 1950s. The determining factor for a new building will be if the hospital decides to keep providing its own electricity through it’s cogeneration plant, or go back on National Grid, Wrinn said. The cogeneration plant uses natural gas to provide the hospital with electricity.
Right now the hospital is studying which option is the best.
“If we decide to go back to National Grid, the new boilers will be placed in the current cogeneration plant,” Wrinn said.

 

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