At a press briefing held at the center's Horton Hospital campusin Middletown recently, Wayne Becker, vice president of specialprojects for Orange Regional, discussed the project's status andshowcased the latest architectural design elements of the 374-bedfacility that will total 621,000 sf. Becker said the newseven-story Orange Regional Medical Center, to be built on a61-acre site off East Main Street in Middletown, will have hard andsoft construction costs that will account for $255 million of theoverall project price tag.

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Orange Regional currently operates two hospitals within eightmiles of each other--the Arden Hill campus, which is a licensed174-bed facility in Goshen, and the 276-bed Horton campus. Thehospital will eventually consolidate hospital operations into thenew facility and is in the midst of trying to sell its existingArden Hill and Horton campuses to help defray development costs.The Horton campus is the largest hospital in Orange County, whileArden Hill is ranked third. Orange Regional also operates 12outpatient facilities and recently opened a new 80,000-sf additionto its Orange Regional Medical Pavilion on Crystal Run Road inMiddletown.

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Becker said that the staff of Orange Regional has worked hardtrying to come up with alternative uses for the Arden Hill andHorton campuses. Currently, the team is in discussions with twoprospective buyers that are each interested in purchasing one ofthe available hospital properties. Becker hopes that letters ofintent will be signed on the deals by this October.

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He notes the new hospital project is still in the approvalprocess with the Town of Wallkill and has a number of other stateand local regulatory hurdles to clear before the project can breakground. However, on the day of the press briefing, Becker said ORMChad received the certificate of need, a key approval for the newhospital venture, from the New York State Department of Health. Thedocument came just a little more than six months after theapplication was first filed.

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He added that significant progress has been made since thehospital first broached building a new hospital back in 2003. Afterworking through schematic architectural designs, the hospital isnow looking to finalize architectural design elements for the newfacility.

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"Now we are beginning construction documents, working documentsfor the project," he said. "I'm still targeting November 2007 to atleast begin site work." Construction is expected to take 34 to 36months to complete with a grand opening in 2011.

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Arden Hill Hospital and Horton Medical Center merged in 2002 tobecome Orange Regional Medical Center. Since the merger, thehospital has focused on consolidating existing resources,eliminating redundancies, expanding services and improving accessto necessary services, hospital officials state. The hospital hasbeen successful in its efforts thus far, but was constrained by theage and physical limitations of existing facilities. Therefore, adecision was made to consolidate the two campuses onto a singlesite in a new replacement hospital.

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Approximately 77% of the project cost will be funded through theissuance of $260 million in tax-exempt bonds to be issued by theNew York State Dormitory Authority. Orange Regional Medical Centerwas awarded Heal (Health Care Efficiency and Affordability Law)grant funding through the New York State Department of Healthtotaling $24.6 million to assist with planning and construction.Other key funding sources include: approximately $18 million fromOrange Regional Medical Center's existing equity; $10 million inproceeds from the expected sales of the existing two campuses; $21million from private fundraising efforts and $2.9 million from"other" sources.

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At present the significant fundraising campaign has yet tobegin. The medical center has held discussions with the New YorkState Dormitory Authority regarding bond financing but has not todate filed a formal application.

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John Jordan

John Jordan is a veteran journalist with 36 years of print and digital media experience.