By Caleb Slinkard
Hospital officials and local politicians were in Commerce last week to mark the ground breaking of Hunt Regional Emergency Medical Center at Commerce, an approximately $5 million facility that will be located on Highway 24 between Whitley Residence Hall and the President’s House.
State Representative Dan Flynn, future U.S. Representative John Ratcliffe, A&M-Commerce President Dr. Dan Jones, Hunt Regional Healthcare CEO Richard Carter, hospital board chairman Ron Wensel, Commerce Mayor Dr. John Ballotti and Commerce City Manager Marc Clayton were all on hand to commemorate the initiation of construction on the new facility. Construction is set to finish up in the spring of 2015.
“We’re targeting the first part of April ,” Alicia Wittkopf, director of Hunt Regional Healthcare Strategic Marketing Communications, said. “Of course, that depends on the weather.”
The new facility will offer outpatient and emergency room services. The inpatient portion of the current Commerce facility will be closed approximately 30 days before the new facility opens, with emergency room services staying open until the new facility is operational.
The fate of the current facility, which sits on Sterling Hart, is unknown at this time, Wittkopf said.
“What happens to the old building is up to the hospital board,” she said. “They have several options they will weigh.”
The project will be paid for through a $12.3 million bond that was passed by district voters in November of 2013. The bond also contained funds for a similar outpatient/ER facility in Quinlan and renovation of the third floor of the Greenville facility. The bonds are expected to be paid back over a 20 year period and will increase the hospital district property tax rate by .0181 cents.
The emergency room facilities in Quinlan and Commerce will cut down on the amount of patients the Greenville location sees, which hospital officials estimated was around 50,000 a year, an unsustainable number long term.