The Covington News - - Lo­cal news -

to re­sume con­struc­tion work on the project.

“ We will con­tinue to mon­i­tor the per­ti­nent fac­tors in­volved and make a de­ci­sion at some point in the fu­ture when the time is right to pur­sue this project,” Brooks said, adding that to pur­sue the project now would re­quire a high level of bor­row­ing by the hospi­tal at in­ter­est rates that re­main un­sta­ble due to the cur­rent eco­nomic cri­sis.

The project is es­ti­mated to cost $ 5.4 mil­lion.

“Ad­di­tion­ally, our hospi­tal and oth­ers around the na­tion have seen some slow­ing in ac­tiv­ity lev­els es­pe­cially where elec­tive pro­ce­dures are con­cerned,” Brooks said.

Once work on the project re­sumes con­struc­tion is ex­pected to last ap­prox­i­mately 16 months.

The project was orig­i­nally con­ceived to ac­com­mo­date a ris­ing num­ber of emer­gency depart­ment vis­its and to ser­vice the grow­ing pop­u­la­tion of the county. The depart­ment sees roughly 36,000 pa­tients each year, of which be­tween 5 and 8 per­cent are in need of im­me­di­ate med­i­cal at­ten­tion.

The ren­o­va­tion and ex­pan­sion of the emer­gency depart­ment was ex­pected to add eight new treat­ment rooms. The depart­ment cur­rently has 17 beds in­clud­ing four car­diac beds and five trauma beds.

The hospi­tal ex­pan­sion is just the lat­est in sev­eral New­ton County projects to be af­fected by the tur­bu­lent fi­nan­cial mar­kets. The ho­tel/ civic cen­ter project has been post­poned due to an in­abil­ity to se­cure commercial loans for the ho­tel and the ex­tremely high cost of tak­ing out bonds to fi­nance the building of the civic cen­ter by the county and city of Cov­ing­ton.

The in­ter­est rate on the bonds taken out by the Joint Devel­op­ment Author­ity to fi­nance the pur­chase of land for Stan­ton Springs also went up this past fall. That re­sulted in a de­ci­sion by the JDA and the New­ton County Board of Com­mis­sion­ers to switch in­sur­ance providers in or­der to lower the rate.

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