Covenant expects to break ground this year
In August, the Lubbock-based Covenant Health System and Lovington’s Nor-Lea Hospital announced Hobbs was getting a new hospital.
It would feature all the bells and whistles that come with today’s hospitals, general, emergency and specialized care.
No official location was announced, although rumors had the hospital’s location on the southeast corner of Lovington Highway and Millen Drive.
Well, there’s a sign at the location now.
“It’s been a long time coming,” said Richard Parks, Covenant Health System CEO. “We’ve actually added some acreage, so we have about 30 acres on the corner now. We are excited about that. It was more than we had planned on. It turned out to be a good situation for us. We are looking forward to coming over there and being a part of the community. I have personally be working on this project for about 3 1/2 years. We’re finally ready to get some things going.”
Parks wasn’t able to give a groundbreaking date, although he did say it would take place within this calendar year.
“We are not far enough along to have a projected start date,” Parks said. “We had one meeting with the development that is helping with the construction and oversight of it. Right now they are finishing some of the surveying processes and architectural renderings and design concepts about how we want the building on the property to look like.”
Nothing has changed regarding the type of facility that is projected. The $52 million, 108,000-square foot, three-story, 32-bed facility is still expected to employ 200-250 people. Parks said there will be 20 general surgical beds, 8 labor delivery/recover and postpartum care beds and four ICU beds. The clinical services include general medicine, general surgery, OBGYN, women’s health center, general cardiology, general orthopedics and behavioral health.
“But the type and the scope of behavioral health is yet to be determined,” said Parks. “We are still going to continue with a community needs assessment and work with the City and the County and the Nor-Lea Hospital District in Lovington.”
Parks also said the facility will also have a 2,000 square foot conference center that can be used for different types of health education and screenings.
Parks said Covenant closed on the land on Jan. 31. The additional acreage is not for the hospital, but for two other facilities that could manifest in the future, a medical office building and a housing complex for employees.
“The reason a medical office building would be so that physicians can have clinic in their office practice and then walk over to the hospital and see patients,” Parks said. “I don’t know if we will build it at the same time we start the hospital.”
The housing complex is also something Parks said Covenant officials have discussed. If it takes place, it would be the second Covenant facility to have its own housing complex.
“We talked about having multi-family apartments or condominiums there so we have staff and physicians staff the hospital and not have to worry about a place to stay in the community,” Parks said.
The Covenant CEO added the area’s tight housing market, greatly contributed by the oil and gas industry, creates a “unique situation” that has the health care system getting involved in the housing industry. Though any plans on where the complex would be on the property has not been finalized.
“Advancements in the oil and gas industry in that region is a good thing for the local economy and the growth of the community,” Parks said. “We haven’t decided whether we would build (the housing complex) or contract someone else to do so. It’s nice to be able to have enough property to be able to put up a couple hundreds units if we want to or need to.”
Parks said there were three other locations around Hobbs Covenant officials were looking into, but through their assessments of the area, the current location was the, “most accessible, most convenient and advantageous for the community to access services at Covenant Hobbs.
“We were prepared to make some offers, but fortunately we were able to stick with our first choice,” Parks said.
Because of its location, Covenant would mostly likely be the first choice for any emergency medical services to its south because the hospital would be the “closest appropriate facility,” to the majority of Hobbs.
According to the New Mexico Department of Health and its EMS Procedure Guidelines, “When ambulance transport is requested or determined to be necessary, an ambulance service shall transport a patient requiring medical treatment to the closest appropriate facility capable of providing definitive care and treatment, as determined by the service’s medical director through local EMS system protocol.
Currently local emergency medical services run its ambulances to Lea Regional Medical, but with Covenant being built about one half-mile closer to Hobbs, EMS services could be required to go to Covenant. Those residents living north of Millen, mainly the northern extra-territorial area, could most likely go to Lea Regional Medical Center.
Parks said that knowledge was not a “primary motivator” in acquiring the site southeast of the Millen Drive/Lovington Highway location.
“I think (the site) just had good convenience,” Parks said. “It would have good recognition in the community. A lot of traffic count going by the property. To me the EMS situation is a by-product of the decision to put the hospital where we will. It was not a primary motivator, but it certainly is a nice positive to be that convenient to people that the ambulances would have easy access and egress to that location.”
Todd Bailey can be reached at editor@ hobbsnews.com.
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