County plans scaled down Weems expansion

Ray Brownsworth

Weems CEO Ray Brownsworth holds the architectural renderings of the original expansion, top, and the scaled-down plans.

Published: Wednesday, December 18, 2013 at 07:27 PM.

If financing can be obtained next year, Weems Memorial Hospital is on course to embark on a $10.2 million expansion, about half the size of the $20 million to $25 million rebuild talked about in recent years.

Following input from county commissioners and the hospital board at a joint workshop earlier this fall, Weems CEO Ray Brownsworth has further pared down the project from its most recent $14 million price tag.

Drawings from the Sarasota architectural firm of TRO Jung | Brannen show current plans to add about 8,000 square feet to be used as a four-room emergency department, complete with a new imaging suite with CT scan.

The existing hospital would be renovated, including a new roof and new utilities. The private wing which now features 25 beds, many in shared units, would be transformed into only private rooms, each with toilet and shower.

The campus’ outside aesthetics would be upgraded. Rooms now used for the Weems West clinic would find new uses, with clinic services moved to the adjacent former health department building which most recently was leased by the county to Dr. Stephen Miniat.

The hospital has expended $40,000 in renovating Miniat’s former offices, which are now used for one full-time provider and a part-time provider. The plan is to have it serve two fulltime practitioners and a part-time one, likely a visiting orthopedic specialty group that can see patients several days a month.

Brownsworth said the $10.2 million could cover the cost of the entire project. The hospital has long planned to seek financing from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s rural construction arm, at an interest rate of about 4.5 percent.

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