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10/1/2018 6:29:00 PM
Proposed new IU Health Frankfort hospital moves forward, gets plan commission approval

Katharine Calabro, Frankfort Times

Frankfort’s Planning Commission gave a favorable recommendation to IU Health on behalf of the new proposed hospital to be built by 2021.

Although in preliminary stages, IU Health Frankfort, city and county, must both be in agreement of the Comprehensive Economic Development Plan before Frankfort’s Redevelopment Commission gives final approval.

Before IU Health Frankfort President Kelly Braverman laid out details of the new facility and primary conditions in the EDP, Mayor Chris McBarnes spoke about the ongoing details of the process.

According to McBarnes, in order for the redevelopment commission to give final approval the EDP must got through numerous boards to give each member a say in if the project is cohesive with the future of Frankfort.

Because the planning commission gave a favorable recommendation, the city council will undertake the amendments on three different readings. During the middle of those readings, it will go back to the RDC who will hold a public hearing and vote. Once the city council conducts its final and third reading, all measures and passes go back to the RDC for a final vote.

“Once that happens the economic comprehensive development strategy is admitted and the projects are approved and things move forward,” McBarnes said.

McBarnes also noted that the city planning commission’s role is to really take a look at proposed projects and make sure they can adapt well into Frankfort’s 2035 plan.

Because IU Health is a critical access hospital, they are licensed to have no more than 25 beds. Currently the facility is around 85 beds, and IU Health Frankfort is only averaging around 12 beds per day.

When IU Health took over the Master Lease Agreement in 2017, Braverman said the hospital invested millions to bring it up to IU Health standards. Although brought up to standard, IU Health, city and county officials have been collaborating on a plan to develop a replacement hospital to be owned by IU Health.

“We have undertaken a very detailed forward looking analysis at the community’s healthcare needs and based upon that anyaslis we proposed to develop a new hospital to build a replacement,” Braverman said.

The agreement is subject to the following primary conditions: IU Health requests the city agree to committing a $500,000 economic development incentive payable over eight years, collaborate with IU Health and the county to raise $4 million in additional grant support, provide all city approvals requested for the project and provide waivers and discounts for agreed upon city utility connections and services.

These incentives must be agreed upon by both city and county in order for the project to be financially feasible. If all parties and boards come to agreement on the EDP, IU Health Frankfort should be able to move into the second phase of the project by the end of January.

Though all commissioners were in agreement of a new facility being built to improve healthcare throughout the county, Commissioner Lewis Wheeler wasn’t sure the city and county would be able to reach an agreement.

“In the past the city and county haven’t always been on the same page, not for lack of trying but things falling through the tracks,” he said. “With the county owning the property, I didn’t want us to jump through these hoops and then IU not be able to follow through.”

Another concern was the $4 million IU Health is requesting in philopatric grant support. Wheeler said he wasn’t clear where the city and county would raise the funds from.

“I wasn’t sure if it’s just grants or if we were reaching int our Rainy Day Fund or RDC to help with these projects, but I figured I’d have a chance at the council meeting to ask without holding up the process,” Wheeler said.

While IU Health doesn’t need the $4 million to continue the project, not receiving the extra funds would mean certain amenities would potentially get dropped from the project. Regardless, Pat Cross a legal representative for IU Health, said the hospital would not be looking for the city or county to make up the dollars.

“We are confident it’s a facility the community would be proud of,” he said. “We just think with the additional dollars there’s a lot more we can do.”

Since the meeting Wheeler and Braverman have further discussed the project and he said his additional questions were answered.

“I just want to make sure we have everything lined up, right off the bat,” Wheeler said.

IU Health Frankfort will present the proposed hospital and EDP to County Commissioners on Monday morning at 9 a.m.

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• IU Health Frankfort moves forward with new hospital plans

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Editor, John C. DePrez Jr.; Executive Editor, Carol Rogers; Publishers: IBRC and IAR

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