By Andra Bryan Stefanoni
PITTSBURG, Kan. —
Officials from Via Christi Hospital, the City of Pittsburg, foundations and boards of directors, and Crossland Construction broke ground Thursday morning on a $20 million surgical center at the hospital in a ceremony .
When complete in 18 to 24 months, studies show the center is expected to have a $16 million economic impact on the community and should bump up retail sales by more than $6 million annually. It is anticipated the center will add $500,000 to the local sales tax base each year.
Blake Benson, president of the Pittsburg Area Chamber of Commerce and a member of the hospital’s foundation board of directors, called the project “economic development at its finest.”
“This also plays right into one of the leading economic development goals with our Pittsburg Imagine 2030 process...” Benson said. “One of those top goals is to make Pittsburg a true regional medical hub for Southeast Kansas...it really furthers our role of not only keeping our local residents from having to go to other communities for their health care, but it also helps us attract those residents from around Southeast Kansas — from Parsons, from Girard, from those other communities, to come to Pittsburg.”
Benson thanked the City of Pittsburg for its support, which includes a $500,000 forgivable loan from the Revolving Loan Fund. In return, the hospital must add 61 new jobs. Hospital chief executive officer Randy Cason said those jobs would include seven new physicians, 28 clinical staff and 26 hospital staff.
The bulk of the remainder of the cost for the 40,000 square-foot surgical center will be paid for with an $18 million bond. The timeline for completion is 18 to 24 months.
For Crossland Construction, the Columbus, Kan.-based company chosen to build the center, it is the first project at the hospital.
“It’s not just another project, it’s the hospital for our town and our community, and we take great pride in it,” said Pat Crossland speaking on behalf of the company. “It’s something to be proud of for generations.”
The hospital has invested $38 million in capital improvements in the last 10 years, according to Cason — much needed, he said, because the hospital, built in 1971, was aging.
“In the next three to five years, we will invest even more,” he said.
Two renovation projects targeted for the second and fourth floors are estimated to carry a price tag of $22 million.