Petersburg Medical Center is located near downtown Petersburg. (Photo/KFSK)

The U.S. Congress Thursday passed a $1.5 trillion omnibus bill to keep the federal government operating. Senator Lisa Murkowski and Congressman Don Young voted in favor of it but Senator Dan Sullivan did not.

The bill includes billions in aid money to Ukraine and $230 million for projects in Alaska. $8 million of that is for a new hospital in Petersburg. KFSK’s Angela Denning has more:

The $8 million is directed to the Petersburg Borough.

“It’s great news,” said Borough Manager Steve Giesbrecht. “I mean, it’s huge. Hospitals are an expensive proposition. It’s really good news.”

CEO of the Petersburg Medical Center, Phil Hofstetter, couldn’t agree more.

“Oh, I’m very excited,” he said. “Very excited.”

Petersburg Medical Center has been slowly working towards a new facility, planning to use outside funding over several years to get it done. The current facility is aging with plumbing and electrical problems and it’s undersized. Parts of it are over 50 years old. It’s in the downtown area and there is no room for building new in the same location so PMC is looking at establishing a new site.

Hofstetter says the $8 million will help pay for that initial phase of the project.

“The way we’re trying to direct the cost is really geared towards the site selection, the environmental study, getting the full and complete planning and design,” he said. “Obviously, there are a lot of unanswered questions in the community related to the exact cost and I think this phase will help answer those questions in a more complete manner as well as looking towards getting some of the site prepared as well.”

Hofstetter says there is a long road ahead to getting a hospital built but this appropriation means a lot.

“That support from the federal level really says a lot as far as potentially going after some other funding and really building off of that,” he said.

The hospital’s building is owned by the borough but it is run separately by the medical center and the hospital board. Giesbrecht says the relationship between the borough’s assembly and the hospital board is really good. He says they wouldn’t have gotten the funding if it wasn’t.

“You know, that’s what that’s all about, the two boards working together and trying to come together on a project that helps the whole community,” Giesbrecht said.

Giesbrecht says there will be some paperwork involved for the borough from the appropriation but the decision making will be left up to the hospital board since they’re the ones who have been working on the project.

The omnibus bill passed the U.S. House and the Senate. As of Friday, it still needed to be signed by the President.