The four small windows at the bottom of the surgical pavilion planned for Lewis County Health System’s main campus hospital on North State Street in Lowville, are part of the ground floor to be removed from the design to save $9 million. In recent estimates, the original design came back $8.5 million over the planned $33 million cost due to material costs. Provided image

LOWVILLE — Construction material supply chain issues have another casualty: the bottom floor of the new surgical pavilion slated for the Lewis County Health System main campus on North State Street.

The budget and plans for the $33 million construction project were sent earlier this month to a company that specializes in estimating construction project costs, Trophy Point, when Health System leadership became concerned about the impact skyrocketing material costs would have on the budget.

Their concerns were justified by the latest estimate.

At current prices, Trophy Point calculated the project would come in $8.5 million over budget, which would not fit into the bond financing plan for the project.

As a result, the project planning team determined that the bottom floor of the pavilion slated to be carved out of the hillside bordering the current hospital building — to be used for a new conference room and a number of classrooms — should be removed from the project.

By doing this, $9 million would be shaved from the latest cost estimate, largely due to the extensive earth removal that would have been required, but the core of the project — a new surgical area and modernization of the medical surgical floor — are still intact.

“We resolved the difficult part (that has resulted from) the pandemic and all that’s transpired since,” said Health System Chief Executive Officer Gerald R. Cayer. “But we maintained the integrity of the project and have been able to scale it appropriately. Now we’ll make those adjustments as we prepare to go out to bid.”

Mr. Cayer explained the situation to the Health System’s board of managers during a meeting Monday evening.

Facilities Director Frank Pace noted that the 7,000-square-foot storage space and the morgue area have been left as planned.

Board Chairman Michael Young inquired about the possibility of building the pavilion so that another floor could be built on top of the structure in the future if another expansion is needed now that it will be only one story. Mr. Cayer and Mr. Pace each had reasons they did not believe that was a viable option.

“I think we should not consider building on top of that structure because by the time it might actually be considered ... there may be changes in building codes and that would probably make it cost-prohibitive,” Mr. Cayer said, with Mr. Pace adding that while he is not an engineer, he believes the cost to make an additional floor an option would be expensive and defeat the purpose of doing away with the ground floor to stay within the budget.

Despite their skepticism, Mr. Pace and Mr. Cayer said they will work up a rough analysis of the feasibility and cost of the idea.

With the board’s approval, new plans will be drawn for the revised pavilion design and finalized by Dec. 1, for inclusion in the application to change the project information for the state Certificate of Need.

The request for bids on the project is targeted to go out in January, providing state approval on the change arrives in time.

The project will reconfigure and renovate the existing inpatient areas including the intensive care, medical and surgical units and create a new space for women’s health services, general surgery and orthopedic surgery.

The pavilion project is funded through a low-interest bond by the county, which owns the hospital, and a fundraising campaign underway through the Hospital Foundation.

The Health System is the largest employer in the county and the only hospital.

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Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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