Carson-Tahoe Trustees to approve $10 million land purchase

Carson-Tahoe Hospital Trustees are expected to approve on Thursday the $10 million purchase of land owned by Eagle Valley Children's Home for a regional medical center.

Located in northwest Carson City, the property includes about 50 acres just north of Eagle Valley Ranch Road. Some of that acreage is taken up by easements and covenants, reducing the usable area to about 32 acres.

In addition, hospital officials are purchasing 19 acres owned by Silver Oak Developers adjacent to the Eagle Valley property.

Escrow was held up pending an agreement to purchase the Eagle Valley property for $2.8 million and is expected to close within days, but there are still many hurdles before plans for the new regional medical center are complete.

Officials expect the transition to be completed between March 1 and April 1, but bonding must first be secured and the hospital's private, nonprofit status must be approved by the Internal Revenue Service. Plans for the new center are also on the drawing board.

"We will have a better-defined cost estimate for the regional medical center by end of this month. (The architectural firm of) Moon and Mayoris is planning the program and space design: how many square feet will be needed and how many beds," said Ed Epperson, the hospital's chief executive. "They will be here Thursday and if everything progresses according to plan, they will be taking the raw data and refining it down to what the hospital will look like in terms of layout, square footage, operating rooms and beds."

Money for a new regional medical center will come from bonds the hospital floats following its conversion to a nonprofit corporation. The success of the project hinges on its ability to assume bonded indebtedness. The higher the rating, the more debt the hospital will be able to assume, according to Epperson. The rate should be fixed by February.

"The Standard and Poor's rating agency will conduct an on-site visit Jan. 24 to interview us and get a feel for what sort of bond rating and creditworthiness we deserve," Epperson said. "We're prepared to go to the bond market as early as mid-February."

Although ownership will transfer to a nonprofit corporation, Carson-Tahoe Hospital is still a city-owned facility and the $10 million property purchase will be submitted to Carson City's Board of Supervisors for approval Jan. 17.

In other business:

-- Board members could approve $150,000 for the development of a partnership with Carson Ambulatory Surgical Center Inc. The hospital's status as sole provider and the concurrent federal compensation have clouded the partnership, and Carson-Tahoe needs consultants to deal with the issue.

"We have to determine how much of partnership we need to own so the hospital doesn't lose money," said Trustee Caleb Mills. "Our relationship with them can't monetarily affect us and we need consultants to determine what percentage of the partnership we need to own so there is no downturn in revenues."

Located in the hospital, the Surgical Center treats surgical patients needing procedures that don't necessitate a lengthy stay. Hospital officials hope to improve their ownership position and a new three-day surgical hospital will probably be part of the regional medical center.

The current facility has essentially no beds and can keep patients for a maximum of 24 hours. The new facility would expand to a separate surgical short-stay hospital that could keep patients about three days.

"Carson-Tahoe is currently a 9 percent owner in this partnership, but we anticipate being 70-80 percent owner," Epperson said.

-- Trustees could approve amendments to a limited partnership agreement and radiology services agreement between Carson-Tahoe and Tahoe Carson Radiology Group.

"We will have a higher level of control than we've had in the past, and indigent care will be taken care of," Epperson said. "The intent is to comply with IRS requirements allowing income to the hospital to be tax exempt and to address certain issues arising from the partnership amendments."

What: Carson-Tahoe Hospital Finance Committee and Board of Trustees

When: 5 p.m. Thursday

Where: Health Education Center, 775 Fleischmann Way


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