Hospital maintenence staff and a private contractor are making good progress toward turning an unused clinic building at the rear of the hospital into offices for two doctors who will soon join the hospital staff.
Just as that long awaited project gets rolling, Administrator Joe Hammond has learned the hospital has landed a grant of more than $400,000 for work to make the hospital more energy efficient.
Fulton County Government applied for the grant on behalf of the hospital.
The application went to the Arkansas Energy Office which is distributing funds thorough a program called Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grants for Small Cities.
"It's an awesome opportunity to upgrade the facility.
To bring the older part of the hospital up to the standards of the new addition," said Hammond.
The grant will allow the hospital to finish installing an Energy Star high efficiency roof on the hospital.
Inside, the building will get new energy saving heating and cooling units and five water heaters fitted with solar panels.
The hospital also received funding to install energy saving fluorescent lighting and the kitchen area will get new Energy Star equipment including a dishwasher, freezer, stove, icemaker and steam table.
"Upgrading the kitchen is especially important," said Hammond.
"Most of the current appliances date back to around 1963 when the hospital was built."
County Judge Charles Willett worked with hospital administrators and specialists at the North Arkansas Electric Co-Op to document the need for the work and the energy savings that will result from it.
Hospital Chief Operating Officer Tammy Friel was pleasantly surprised that the total amount sought, $428,989, was fully approved.
"That is a little unusual," said Friel. "Often, when a grant application is approved, it is for less than requested. It is not unusual to receive 50 percent of a request." The hospital's portion of the bill will be covered by the maintenance staff which will provide as much labor as possible as the improvements are done.
County government also received a small grant through the energy efficiency program. Those funds will be used to install new lighting in the old shirt factory building which is being prepared for a new manufacturing company.
As for the work on the new doctors' offices, the interior of the old clinic has been gutted and new space is being created for triage and exam rooms, doctors' offices and labs.
On the west side of the building, work is underway to build a new patient waiting room for the two new physicians.
The work is being done as quickly as possible because the doctors are already planning their moves and getting them on staff to help generate new revenue is a top priority of the Hospital Board.
Dr Ahmad Saab, who was recently granted his Arkansas Medical License, should join the hospital around the first of August.
Dr Madhulika Krish is already setting up her practice and intends to begin seeing patients in mid-July.