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Hospital spending tops $2M since start; Jan. 1 move-in set

by Alan Lewis Gerstenecker
| July 23, 2013 12:30 PM

A mild winter that allowed uninterrupted building of Cabinet Peaks Medical Center through the winter and an agreeable spring that has put construction about five months ahead, has put the facility on pace for a move-in date before Jan. 1, a hospital spokeswoman said Monday.

“We are still ahead of schedule and looking to be moved in before the the first of the year,” said Kate Stephens, executive director of the St. John’s Lutheran Hospital Foundation. “Mostly, it is because of the mild winter that allowed the crews to keep going all winter long.”

Also, last week,  Swank Enterprises, which is the general contractor for Cabinet Peaks Medical Center, released construction spending figures since the project began, stating the project has infused $2.253 million into the Libby economy since construction began in October.

“Construction has helped boost the local economy immensely,” Stephens said. “We’re just thrilled just how much has come back and how much will return to the local economy as this project progresses.”

Swank’s Project Manager Scott Bruner said currently seven Lincoln County residents work directly for Swank, and 27 additional residents are working for other subcontractors. However, those numbers have been as high as eight working for Swank and 47 locals working for subcontractors during the life of the project.  

Additionally, $343,825 was spent locally, during the month of June in wages, supplies, hotels, gas stations, subcontractors and in the local stores.  

That kind of payback had St. John’s CEO Bruce Whitfield saying the project is living up to its promises.

“The project is living up to all expectations, especially those regarding a spark to our local economy,” said Whitfield. “We are thankful that Swank has been able to hire so much local talent to work on this project. Cabinet Peaks Medical Center is our community’s facility, and it thrills us to see our own community members literally helping to build it.”

The current facility will remain St. John’s Lutheran Hospital until the new medical center becomes operational. At that time the name change to Cabinet Peaks Medical Center will take effect. Recently, the hospital conducted a contest to choose a name for the new medical center, and Cabinet Peaks Medical Center was chosen.

Tony Rebo, St. John’s Lutheran Hospital operations manager and construction liaison, elaborated on the current status of the project.

“Currently, Area A of the first floor is finished and painted, and the ceiling grid is going in. Area B of the first floor is completely sheet-rocked and painting has begun,” Rebo said.

The second floor of Area A the frame work is being completed and sheet-rock placement is getting under way as the Area B framework continues, Rebo said.

Rebo said the outside of the building is “coming along nicely, and the asphalt has all been completed and striped. Additionally, we hope to have power into the building very soon.”

Rebo concluded by saying an estimated 50 percent of the project is completed.