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Hospital project to begin soon
"If all goes as planned, the $5.1 million expansion of Whidbey General Hospital in Coupeville should be under way later this summer. The project, funded by the bond issue passed by voters in September 2000, will increase space and services available in outpatient departments.The response to the request for bids has been vigorous.The offer of bids went out on the street about a week ago. I understand that six (general contractors) have contacted us already, said Doug Bishop, the hospital's chief financial officer. Although the request for bids was delayed because completion of architectural plans took longer than expected, hospital administrators still expect to be on target for ground-breaking in late summer, Bishop said.A pre-bid walk-through orientation meeting will be held at the hospital for interested contractors next Tuesday at 1 p.m., Bishop said. The walk-through will include an orientation meeting and is intended to help contractors formulate appropriate bids. Plans of the work to be completed will be issued at the meeting.Contractors will have until 3 p.m. on June 28 to submit bids, at which time the bids will be opened at a public meeting of hospital representatives and administrative staff, Bishop said. Bids will only be opened and reviewed at the meeting.Award of the contract will take place at a later date, Bishop said, after a background check is completed on the low bidder. The purpose of the check is to ensure that the contractor has a valid license and insurance.The hospital will remain fully operational during the expected 18-month construction process, a caveat that is detailed in the bid specifications sent out to contractors, Bishop said. Some departments will need to be temporarily moved to another section of the hospital during the construction, but services will continue uninterrupted.We don't want to shut down any areas, Bishop said.To keep all areas open, the project will be done in phases, which is why it will take 18 months to complete.The $5.1 million bond issue passed in September with 76-percent voter approval. The money will go to remodel and expand hospital departments to include a new ambulatory care/cancer care unit, an expanded emergency department, a cardiac rehabilitation area, a remodeled diagnostic imaging area, a remodeling of the reception area and admitting department, and the addition of family and quiet rooms.About 20,000 square feet of the hospital will be included in the remodel, and the expansion will add about 6,000 square feet to the facility. One part of the expansion will add space at the northwest corner of the building, and a second addition will be made to the south end of the emergency room. The medical records dpeartment is being moved downstairs, which will free up space for the expanded admitting department and a new lobby.One goal of the remodeling was to simplify the traffic pattern through the hospital, said Amy Ayers, chief operating officer of the hospital. There will be one main entrance into the hospital, and then patients will be able to flow through the facility easily and without confusion.You can reach News-Times reporter Christine Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 675-6611 "