Health district secures $30 million from State of Utah to rebuild San Juan Hospital in Monticello

by Bill Boyle
SJR Editor
The San Juan Health District has secured $30 million in funding from the State of Utah to replace the San Juan Hospital in Monticello.
As a result, the oldest hospital in the State of Utah, built in the 1950s, will be replaced by a brand-new 41,000-square foot facility on 15 acres adjacent to the current hospital.
The funding package was secured in the final days of the 45-day Utah State legislative session following six weeks of intensive lobbying effort and work.
San Juan County Commissioner Bruce Adams led the charge to secure the funding after running into a wall during a November request for funding through the Community Impact Board (CIB).
After the CIB placed the project on a pending list, the district went to work to pursue alternative funding sources.
Adams said that Utah Governor Spencer Cox was key to the effort, committing his support for the project in November and suggesting several funding sources.
“I can’t emphasize enough how critical Governor Cox was to the project,” said Adams. “He supported us all the way through.”
The initial request was for $20 million from the Utah Rural Opportunity Fund.
Several different avenues were pursued before the complete package was approved on the next-to-last day of the legislative session.
The funding package includes $17.5 million in low-interest loans from the Rural Opportunity Fund and the Governors Office of Economic Opportunity.
The Legislative Appropriations Committee contributed a grant of $12.5 million.
The health service district will contribute $5 million as the final piece of the puzzle.
Adams gave a long list of people and organizations who were necessary to complete the project, including Governor Cox, the Utah Hospital Association, rural commissioners, the Utah Association of Counties (UAC), legislators, and legislative leaders, particularly Representative Carl Albrecht, and Senator David Hinkins.
San Juan Health CEO Clayton Holt said it would not have happened without the efforts of Commissioner Adams.
“Bruce’s efforts have been nothing short of heroic as far as his work in going out and talking to people who matter and making the case.
“He was absolutely fearless in talking to every single person, in the Senate, the House, the Governor’s office, the UAC, at every turn.
“He has spent the last 20 years building relationships with people to where he could go to them and say, ‘We need your help on this… this is a worthy project’, and people would listen.”
Holt went on to explain, “In this tight budget year, there were some people that gave something up so we could have this opportunity to replace this hospital; meaning people not in San Juan County, but throughout the state.”
Holt added that the health district was able to “enlist a lot of other help as well that frankly moved the ball over the goal line. These are people who were very kind to us and very kind to San Juan County.”
Earlier, at an October 24 public hearing, Holt said it was time to build a new hospital, adding, “San Juan Hospital is – far and away – the oldest hospital building in the entire state.”
Holt outlined the steps the district has taken to look at the current facility and determine how to proceed. Holt said an architectural firm evaluated the hospital building as a whole, in addition to each of the systems that contribute to the facility (such as plumbing, electrical, roofing, foundation, etc.).
“They determined that most of the systems in the building are nearing ‘end of life’ and could fail in the near future,” said Holt. “The architect opinion is you can’t fix this existing building, it needs to be replaced.”
In November, the health district requested $34 million from the Utah Community Impact Board (CIB) but ran into a significant funding obstacle.
The CIB, which is funded by oil and gas lease revenue on federal lands, is facing increasing funding requests and decreasing revenues to fund the requests.
Four months after the CIB placed the project on pending status, the State of Utah stepped forward and helped the district secure the funding.
Holt said the district will now move from the preliminary schematic designs to a full design.
“We will start the process as soon as we possibly can,” said Holt. “And the ultimate goal is to see something going on one year from now.”
Holt said the new 41,000 square foot facility is the minimum required and includes nothing extra. The new facility will provide the “existing services and look where we think rural medicine is moving in the future.” He referenced the growth in specialty tele-medicine services and the growing patient base from surrounding areas.
As planned, the current administrative building, San Juan Clinic building, and warehouse will remain as is. In addition, the surgical suite, which was built in 2010, will remain in its current location. The remainder of the hospital will be replaced.
Holt added that the vicinity to the current hospital is helpful because the federal funding contracts are tied to the current hospital.

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