MSHA ready to evaluate land for new Erwin facility

Brad Hicks • Aug 27, 2013 at 7:13 AM

ERWIN — As officials with Mountain States Health Alliance and Unicoi County Memorial Hospital prepare the documents that will be sent to the state attorney general’s office for its review, MSHA officials intend to conduct a little review of their own. Officials plan to evaluate the property being eyed as the future site of Erwin’s new hospital.

Bill Alton, MSHA vice president of facilities and construction, said MSHA has hired Unicoi County-based Treadway Land Surveyors to conduct due diligence on approximately 45 acres of property located next to the Holiday Inn Express off the Temple Hill Exit.

“We’d be doing due diligence to make sure the property will suffice to build a new hospital on,” Alton said.

Although the contract with the surveyors is still being worked out, Alton said the company’s work may start within the next couple of weeks, and it will primarily be assessing the property to ensure the land meets MSHA’s needs at the site of the new UCMH in Erwin and lends itself to future growth. Surveyors will also make that MSHA will be able to “use” the property, Alton said, meaning that they will check to ensure that no issues would prohibit the property from being used to construct the new hospital upon.

Part of the property is on a floodplain and part is in a floodway, Alton said. He said surveyors would also work to ensure that MSHA has enough acreage left to achieve the future goals of the new hospital once mitigation on the floodplain and floodway take place.

Alton said that once it begins, the surveyors’ work may take 30 to 45 days to complete. He also said MSHA has a purchase agreement in place with the property owner that says the due diligence process must be completed to make sure the property meets the organization’s needs.

On Thursday, the UCMH Board of Control approved the final definitive agreement allowing MSHA to acquire the community hospital. As part of its acquisition proposal, MSHA committed to the construction of a new acute care facility within the limits of Erwin.

MSHA officials have said they intend to begin construction on this new facility in 2015, with its completion slated for early 2017.

Now that the definitive agreement has been approved, the signed agreement and other documents related to the transaction will be submitted to the state attorney general’s office for review. Once the office deems this documentation complete, it will have 45 days to review the acquisition process, but this time frame can be extended. After its review, the attorney general’s office will either object to the sale or take no action.

UCHM interim CEO Jete Edmisson said Monday the final agreement has been signed by UCMH and MSHA, but attorneys are giving the documents a thorough review before they are submitted to the attorney general’s office.

“We will be working this week to get all the different components for the Tennessee AG’s request for information,” Edmisson said, adding that he has not received definitive word on when these documents will be submitted.

Assuming the attorney general takes no action and the transaction’s closing takes place, construction of the new facility can begin. But before construction begins, MSHA will undertake a strategic planning process to determine the final number of licensed beds that will be placed in the new hospital and final size of the new hospital. MSHA is committed to placing at least 20 licensed beds in the new facility.

“The strategic planning will drive the bed size, the services provided and then, in return, what we do is do basically a program that defines the square footage,” Alton said. “The program will define the square footage for each service that we’re going to provide down there and that, in return, equals the size of the building that we’re going to build.”

Alton said MSHA will pursue Leader in Energy and Environmental Design certification on the new UCMH as it has with its other facilities, which he said will put less demand on Erwin’s utility infrastructure. He also said it appears the utility infrastructure on the property being looked at will meet the needs for a new hospital, and that the location will provide visibility for and easy access to the facility.

“Initially, it appears to be one of the best sites we could have selected,” Alton said.

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