Construction to begin on St. Mary's Janesville
Officials with SSM Health Care of Wisconsin and Dean Health System announced today that the delayed project is back on track.
“It’s a full green go,” SSM CEO Mary Starmann-Harrison said of the $150 million campus that is expected to create nearly 500 direct and indirect jobs.
Citing a need for health care choices in the community, SSM and Dean announced plans for the project in April 2008 and staged a groundbreaking ceremony in November.
But in February officials delayed the project because of unfavorable interest rates in the tax-exempt bond markets. At the time, SSM included the Janesville project in a larger bond issue with other SSM projects.
Starmann-Harrison said Tuesday the need for the project still exists, and the community has been unwavering in its support.
While bond markets haven’t improved much, the Janesville project is the partners’ top priority, she said. Recoveries in other investment markets, an improving economy and tighter control of operating expenses are the foundation to move the project forward, she said.
In the short term, SSM will dip into its cash reserves and wait for the bond markets to improve, she said.
The delay helped hospital and clinic officials firm up design plans for the facility, said Kerry Swanson, the hospital’s new president.
“There’s a silver lining in this black cloud,” she said. “The delay has given us the opportunity to review our processes and plans, which we would have been doing on a parallel track with construction.”
While the expected cost of the 50-bed hospital is $90 million, the physician office complex has grown to $60 million, said Craig Sammitt, Dean’s president and CEO. The physical size of the clinic also has grown from 120,000 square feet to 150,000 square feet.
J.P. Cullen & Sons of Janesville will be one of the main contractors on the building project.
Sammitt said Dean’s Riverview and Northview clinics in Janesville eventually would close and relocate to the new facility.
As reform looms on the horizon, the future of health care will involve deeper levels of collaboration and integration, Sammitt said.
The Janesville project, he said, is an example of the necessary partnership between SSM, which primarily runs hospitals, and Dean, which primarily operates physician clinics.
Staff at the clinics learned this morning that the project was back on track.
“There was a lot of applause and happiness,” said Mark McDade, a Dean surgeon. “There really wasn’t any doubt about the project, but there was some anticipation.
“This is an indicator that things are happening in this community.”
Sammitt and Starmann-Harrison agreed, saying that Dean and SSM are pleased to support a community that has suffered so much in the last year.
Sammitt said he hopes the project triggers other investment in the Janesville area.
“It’s a great day for Janesville and a ray of hope for our local economy,” Starmann-Harrison said. “We’re ready to move full speed ahead and get this medical campus up and running.”