By David Howell
WATER VALLEY – Super-visors awarded a $4.628 million bid for work at the county’s 55 year-old hospital that will include interior and exterior renovations, plus the addition of a second floor on the front of the building that will house a geropsych unit. The bid is the first phase of an $8 million investment planned by Yalobusha Health Services (YHS) that will also include the construction of an assisted living facility and wellness center that will be located off-site from the current hospital property.
Supervisors voted unanimously to award the job to Century Construction and Realty, Inc. during a recessed meeting Monday at the Coffeeville courthouse following a recommendation from the Yalobusha General Hospital and Nursing Home Board of Trustees. As the owner of the hospital property, the bids were solicited on the county’s behalf instead of directly from the hospital board of trustees.
“We are extremely excited to be moving forward with building the geropsych expansion and assisted living facility,” YHS administrator Terry Varner told the Herald after the meeting. “The need for these services have been reaching crisis-level in recent years, so the opportunity to be able to provide geropsych and chemical dependency services, along with assisted living, to Yalobusha County, and surrounding areas, is a great accomplishment.”
Varner said that when completed, the new projects will create 32 jobs, adding to the current workforce of 340 employees employed at the hospital, nursing home and hospital-owned clinics.
“Not only will there be added jobs and services that come from this project, it also allows our healthcare team to provide more comprehensive care, which is one of our focal points at Yalobusha Health Services,” Varner added.
Monday’s vote to award the contract followed discussion from the previous meeting on Sept. 5 about financing for the project, specifically about the utilization of New Market Tax Credits that will fund 45 percent of the total price tag of the $8 million dollar investment. New Market Tax Credits are a program that incentivizes community development and economic growth through the use of tax credits that attract private investment to low or moderate income communities.
“They are getting a lot more building than they are paying for,” Board Attorney John Crow explained about the tax credits, explaining that the hospital will not have to pay back this portion of the financing. Last week Crow met with attorneys hired by the hospital to help secure the funding to review the deal before recommending to supervisors that the bid be awarded.
The county was also awarded a $640,000 Community Development Block Grant from the Mississippi Development Authority (MDA) for the project, money Varner explained was awarded based on the number of jobs created. Varner also told supervisors that the hospital has applied for a USDA grant to help fund part of the remaining portion of the investment.
Back in April Varner reported that the hospital has invested $14 million in health care in the last decade for projects that include equipment, building additions, renovations, HVAC and electrical upgrades.