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News >  Idaho

Kootenai Health expansion on schedule, budget

The tall crane looming over the Kootenai Health campus in Coeur d’Alene is one sign that the $57 million hospital expansion is hitting its stride.

Another is the pace of giving to help pay for the three-story addition. The Kootenai Health Foundation has taken in more than $2 million since launching a $10 million capital campaign for the project in August.

That progress is “impressive and humbling,” said Shawn Bassham, foundation president.

“You know that you have a very giving community, and then when you sit down and visit with people face to face and you talk about what this is going to do for people in North Idaho, the light bulb goes on and they’re very generous in helping us to accomplish it,” Bassham said.

When completed in early 2016, the 100,000-square-foot addition will house a new family birthing center, neonatal intensive care unit, lobby and registration area. It also will have a 32-bed orthopedic patient care unit on the second floor, giving Kootenai a 10 percent net increase in beds. The third floor will remain unfinished and available for another 32-bed unit down the road.

“Over the last three weeks or so we’ve really cranked it up,” said Jeremy Evans, Kootenai’s vice president of operations. “It’s obviously very visible, and it’s really exciting for our community and the folks at Kootenai.”

Construction began in July on the hospital’s east lawn. Workers now are putting in the foundation and erecting the building’s steel structure. The steel work should be finished by mid-January, Evans said.

“It’s actually starting to take shape,” he said. “You can see the size, the mass, the curve of the exterior. People are going to start to understand how large this addition really is.”

The project is on schedule and on budget, Evans said. Up to 450 construction workers will be on the job, with almost 150 on site now. Bouten Construction and NAC Architects are leading the work.

Many patient rooms look over the construction site. “We often find that our patients and families are getting a kick out of watching the progress of construction out there,” Evans said.

“There can be noise and vibrations that we’re very sensitive to,” he added. “And we’ve got a lot of procedures in place to offer comfort kits to our patients and we have hotlines to stop construction if there’s a particular sensitive issue or need to do so.”

The capital campaign kicked off with gifts from hospital and foundation leaders. Also, the foundation dedicated this year’s Festival of Trees proceeds to the project. The fundraiser last weekend featured 37 ornately decorated Christmas trees and other displays that were pre-sold or auctioned off. This year’s tally isn’t in yet, but the foundation usually raises $350,000 to $450,000, Bassham said.

Fundraising is expected to continue beyond the $10 million for the first phase, she said, as additional projects take shape. That’s expected to include additional operating rooms and an expansion of the emergency department.

“I’m going to push this domino over with my donors, and they’re going to help accomplish this first phase,” Bassham said. “And then as this second phase comes up, we’re going to push that next domino over. It’s sort of a cyclical campaign; there will be new pieces to rise up.”

The current expansion is being funded from cash reserves and financed through debt, in addition to donations.

The hospital’s last major expansion, revealing Kootenai’s signature pale-blue façade, opened 30 years ago. The addition will have a bit of that blue blended in with light gray panels and lots of glass, Evans said.

“So we’ll still kind of honor the history of the blue metal panels, but we’re going to modernize it and take it up a notch – or down a notch, whichever way you want to characterize that.”

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