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$2M awarded for Cortez hospital project

$14.2M expansion work at Southwest Memorial Hospital expected to start in March
Southwest Memorial Hospital will build an ambulance garage as well as a new inpatient wing as part of a $14.2 million expansion. Work is slated to get underway in March at the hospital in Cortez.

In addition to a voter-approved sales tax, proceeds from energy and mineral production will also help fund a $14.2 million capital improvement project at Southwest Memorial Hospital in Cortez.

Announced earlier this week, a hospital executive said the $2 million Department of Local Affairs for Energy and Mineral Impact grant was awarded to the Montezuma County Hospital District. The grant will assist in the construction of a state-of-the-art inpatient wing at the 25-bed, critical-access hospital on Mildred Road, as well as an ambulance garage with conference space and rooming quarters for EMS staff.

“The grant was awarded based on a variety of factors such as its connection to energy impact, degree of need, measurable outcomes, amount of request, relationship to community goals, level of local match, community support, management capacity and readiness to go,” hospital spokeswoman Haley Leonard said in a news release.

Funding for the Energy and Mineral Impact assistance program comes from the state severance tax on energy and mineral production and from a portion of the state’s share of royalties paid to the federal government for mining and drilling of minerals and mineral fuels on federally owned land.

In November, county voters approved the hospital district’s request for a limited sales and use tax by a 3-2 margin to overhaul the 40-year-old medical facility. Construction on the three-year project is expected to start in March.

Throughout the sales tax campaign initiative, hospital executives emphasized that the expansion and facilities upgrade was crucial to modernizing the county’s health care infrastructure.

The 0.4 percent tax – 4 cents per every $10 – would be applied to money spent in Montezuma County, but it would exclude certain items such as most food purchased in grocery stores, prescription drugs, residential utilities and nonlicensed farm equipment.

Health care officials have previously said that they also plan to apply for a USDA loan to pay for $6.6 million of the project.

Denver-based firm Davis Partnership Architects is charged with designing the expansion.

Southwest Health System, Inc. operates Southwest Memorial Hospital and nine affiliated outpatient clinics in Montezuma County and employs more than 400 people.

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