Archive for Thursday, February 11, 2010

LMH facility plans approved

February 11, 2010

Plans for Lawrence Memorial Hospital’s primary care facility in Eudora are moving forward.

Hospital officials say construction could start in a few months, now that Eudora Planning Commissioners have approved plans for the $2 million 10,000-square-foot building. Design work should be complete in April, said Gene Meyer, the hospital’s CEO.

“There’s not a lot of construction going on around the country,” he said. “I would imagine that once we bid it out and choose somebody, we could get started on it soon thereafter.”

The building will accommodate at least two doctors and will include space for radiology, physical therapists and lease space for a retail pharmacist. It will be constructed on a 24-acre site just southeast of the Church Street exit on Kansas Highway 10.

“How wonderful is it that after several years of discussing it that they’re in a position to move forward,” City Administrator John Harrenstein said. “We’ve positioned LMH, and they’ve helped us, to come into our community and provide a service that we greatly need. I’m confident that the recommendations associated with each of these developments are in the public’s best interest.”

In early 2006, LMH announced plans for the construction of the facility to be staffed by Dr. Dan Dickerson and at least one other physician.

The initial timetable for construction to begin was early 2008, with doctors moving into the facility in 2009. But in March 2008, Meyer said a shortage in physicians would delay the start of construction.

Meyer also there were questions about how the facility would acquire water service and fire protection because of Eudora’s lawsuit with Douglas County Rural Water District No. 4.

The suit was filed in 2007, and in May 2009 a jury in U.S. District Court in Topeka found the city of Eudora had limited the district’s ability to serve 113 acres annexed into the city in recent years.

In September, the district was granted an injunction that ordered the city to refrain from competing for customers with RWD 4.

The injunction also ordered the city to not engage in any acts that would frustrate existing customers or dissuade potential customers from obtaining or requesting service.

The city and RWD 4 have filed an appeals and the case could be heard as early as late 2010 by the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver.

"I know I speak for Douglas 4 when I wish Lawrence Memorial Hospital the very best in its new project, and we all look forward to the citizens of Eudora and others nearby benefitting from the level of medical care that LMH certainly can provide," said John Nitcher, the water district’s attorney.

Meyer said the progress of the suit clarified water issues — the city is allowed to provide fire protection to the facility while the district will provide potable water — and made it possible for the plans to move forward.

“It’s primarily a result of the process maturing a little bit,” he said. “Our position has been, ‘we want to serve the community and we want to have what we believe to be a visible, accessible and developable location.’ I think we’ve reached a good end result and we’re interested in moving forward.”

LMH will begin recruiting another family care physician to work with Dr. Dickerson.

“I think we’re in the right location,” Meyer said. “It is also our sincere hope that this location will also provide us an opportunity to attract De Soto patients to Eudora.”

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