Cameron breaks ground on new downtown hospital

November 15th, 2012

News Coverage:

Cameron breaks ground on new downtown hospital

By Mike Marturello

Thursday, November 15, 2012, 1:00am

ANGOLA — Greg Burns is looking forward to the sight of dust blowing and debris that comes with a construction project, make that a major construction project.

That project, of course, is the building of the new Cameron Memorial Community Hospital where Burns serves as president and CEO.

“Where some see dust and debris, we see the future, so let the construction begin,” Burns declared right before a couple dozen people tossed ceremonial shovels of soil at the ground breaking ceremony for the new Cameron.

“This day has been a long time coming, hasn’t it,” Burns said.

After announcing in January 2011 it would build a new hospital, it took some 18 months to finalize financing through a federal loan. Bids went out for the work this summer. Planning for the new Cameron has been under way for nearly four years.

“This process has been going on ever since that first board meeting I attended back in 2005,” said Ken Dunlap, president of Cameron’s board of directors. He went on to say that it was finally decided four years ago to build a new hospital and it would be constructed at its existing campus. The new Cameron campus will cover about 13 acres.

Cameron received $47 million loan commitments from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development Community Facilities program in July. Farmers and Merchants State Bank, with offices in Angola, is providing a guarantee for part of the lending.

The overall 30-month construction schedule calls for occupancy of the new hospital 18 months following the start of construction, with renovation of part of the existing building and completion of the entire project following 12 months later.

Beyond the federal loans, Cameron has been receiving financial commitments from a variety of sources in the community.

Chris Snyder, chairman of the Cameron Hospital Foundation, announced that Cameron employees have pledged $242,000 and the entire Cameron family — physicians and the like — has raised more than $400,000 for the project.

“We look forward to the continued support of the community,” Snyder said. “This new and improved hospital will have a positive impact on the delivery of health care in the community.”

First Federal Savings Bank of Angola was recognized for its $100,000 contribution.

“What an exciting day this is not only for the hospital but for the entire community,” said George Gilbert, First Federal president.

Gilbert noted how First Federal and Cameron have been neighbors some 40 years and that the hospital is an anchor for the downtown.

“You keep the community and the downtown vibrant,” Gilbert said.

The Steuben County Community Foundation was recognized for its $25,000 gift to the hospital as well.

The public Campaign for Cameron will be headed by hospital board member Chuck Nedele. He noted how important it was that the Cameron Medical Office Building was built during the months of delay between announcing construction of the new hospital and the securing of funding for the new hospital.

The Cameron Medical Office Building is a private structure built by Barry and Carri Trine, Lake James. It was supposed to be built after the new hospital was constructed. People were able to tour the building Wednesday.

That facility gives a snapshot of how the new Cameron Hospital will appear.

The exterior appearance and mass of the new hospital is designed to complement the architectural style of buildings in downtown Angola and the neighborhood of which Cameron is a part. The grounds of the new campus will be park like, with much green space.

A healing garden south of the new hospital will be on the property where Gilbert’s parents used to live.

Burns said it was a challenge to access capital for health care facilities, but it has finally become a reality for Cameron.

“Many would suggest that in today’s economy and with current financing constraints, it would be improbable — perhaps impossible — that a small, 25-bed, independent hospital in northeast Indiana could secure funding — on it’s own — for a brand new state-of-the-art hospital facility,” he said. “Well, mission accomplished!”

He thanked U.S. Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-Howe, for helping in the process of securing the federal loans.