Millions of dollars for a new Petersburg Medical Center and Public Health Center are in the state’s capitol budget—at least at this point in the process. But as Angela Denning reports, there is a long way to go before it gets approved.
Senator Bert Stedman proposed $20 million for the project in the Senate’s capitol budget bill. The amount is $11.4 million in the House’s version.
The funding would ultimately come from federal grant money in the Coronavirus Capital Project Fund. First, the state Legislature has to approve it in the budget bill, which would then allow the Governor to apply for the federal money.
Hospital CEO, Phil Hofstetter, says it’s exciting.
“I think it’s great,” he said. “We’re just crossing our fingers. I’m just holding my breath a little bit until it goes through to the Governor’s signature.”
A lot has to happen before funding is approved. The Senate and the House will get together and decide on a final amount. It can’t be more than the Senate’s $20 million proposal. Then the Governor will need to approve applying for the federal funds.
Petersburg Medical Center has been slowly working towards a new facility, planning to use outside funding over several years. The current facility is aging with plumbing and electrical problems and it’s undersized. It’s in the downtown area with no additional space available so PMC is looking at establishing a new site.
The hospital’s building is owned by the borough but it is run separately by the medical center and the hospital board. Board member, Kathi Riemer, says it would be exciting to have the federal funding but the board hasn’t discussed it yet.
“We haven’t even had a chance to talk about any of this yet,” she said. “Because it’s new, it’s brand new!”
The hospital received $8 million in the federal omnibus bill, which was approved in March. Hofstetter says it will be used for the initial phase, which will include the site selection, environmental study, and the complete planning and design. This new capitol budget funding would also be used for getting the site shovel ready.
Hofstetter says getting state and federal funding approved will help the project continue to get more funding, which is the ultimate goal.
“There’s other programs that are out there that, you know, if you have federal and state support it sort of puts, almost like a certificate of approval that this is a supported program,” Hofstetter said. “And it provides opportunity for other types of federal and state programs to build off of that.”
According to staff at Senator Stedman’s office, lawmakers hope and plan to be done with the budget by the end of the regular session, May 18.