Commission takes steps toward new Tucumcari hospital

TUCUMCARI — The Quay County Commission on June 13 took several significant steps to building a new hospital to replace the aging Trigg Memorial Hospital in Tucumcari, including unanimously approving a nearly $1 million design service fee with an Arizona architectural firm.

The $981,718 design service fee with Stantec Architecture in Phoenix, which has designed 19 other rural hospitals, covers architectural, structural, mechanical, plumbing, electrical, landscaping, civil engineering and heliport designs.

Mike Williams, a health care planner at Stantec, told the commission by video conference his firm plans to reduce the new hospital complex’s size from 40,800 to 36,700 square feet to cut costs and construction time.

Stantec initially estimated a cost of $20.8 million, but Williams acknowledged inflationary pressures in the construction industry could make that sum go higher.

Williams earlier in 2022 provided three options in a feasibility study for the nearly 60-year-old Trigg Memorial Hospital, including building a new facility on a donated tract of land just south of there, renovating in place, or a hybrid of renovation and new construction.

Williams said he and county officials believe new construction was the least-expensive option with the shortest construction time.

Commissioner Jerri Rush asked whether Stantec could borrow elements from the other 19 hospitals it designed to save costs. Williams said contract language state those designs are owned by the governmental entities, and it would require a “lengthy” process to use them.

Also, Williams said each construction site is unique, with different soil conditions and climates that require custom designs. Finally, he said local, state and federal codes for hospitals change quickly, and design firms have to adapt to those.

Commission Chairman Franklin McCasland asked when the design would be finished. Williams said he hoped to complete it by Thanksgiving and have a detailed construction cost estimate by December. McCasland said that timeframe would be “helpful” in having enough information to request a state appropriation by the New Mexico Legislature’s January session.

The commission also approved a $1,000-a-month agreement with former longtime County Manager Richard Primrose to serve as the county’s liaison with hospital contractors.

County Manager Daniel Zamora noted Primrose assisted him with the transition, and “he had 14 years of experience (as county manager) I couldn’t buy.” Zamora said with a project of the scale of a new hospital, Primrose’s monthly fee for his services is about one-third of what it ordinarily would cost.

Rush agreed: “I think this is going to be money well-spent.”

Before the vote on the agreement, Primrose said it was a good time to request federal and state money to help build the new hospital. He said he has approached federal legislators about funding possibilities, and an aide for Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham pledged to help.

Primrose said if the conceptual design for the hospital was done before early 2023 and “shovel ready,” it would give local officials “a leg up” to request taxpayer money for the project. He said any effort to get construction started earlier in 2023 also would save money.

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