From the Pikeville Medical Center building, a portion of the U-shaped town of Pikeville can be seen beyond the above ground construction phase (foreground) of the Pikeville Medical Center (PMC) expansion project, on Tuesday, July 12, 2011, in Pikeville, KY. Some of the property has been cut into the mountainside. The construction area is where the parking garage will be; eliminating the long walk patients have to overcome to get from the current parking lot to the main medical center. After months of infrastructure construction and rain delays, one of Kentuckyâs largest American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) projects is under way. The $44.6 million Community Facilities Loan will finance construction of a new medical office building and parking garage. The new medical office building will house outpatient surgery, endoscopy and surgical support and provide exam, waiting and office space for 23 primary and specialty care physicians. It also will contain a medical research center to support existing research â in conjunction with Pikeville College â on health disparities, genetic research related to the prevalence of cancer and other areas, including drug and treatment trials. The new seven-floor parking garage with more than 1,000 spaces will be built adjacent to the new medical building. This will eliminate the need to shuttle patients back and forth from remote parking areas, as the centerâs current parking areas are filled to capacity on a daily basis. The new garage will provide closer and easier proximity to medical and hospital services for all patients.
Wayne Rutherford, County Judge-Executive for Pike County, says funding from ARRA is a boon for his county because it will create jobs.
âThis is great for Pike Countyâs economy. We know we have a great hospital, and with this support, it will be even better,â said Rutherford. âThe unemployment rate here is above the state average and this will stimulate jobs. There will be construction, which means lots of jobs on the front end â and even more once it is built.â
Pike County is one of Kentuckyâs persistent poverty counties and the current medical facility provides health care services for a rural population of more than 68,000. This project will create 1,430 direct and indirect construction jobs, in addition to 97 long-term jobs. It is scheduled to be completed in December 2012.
âThis project is a prime example of the ARRA monies being utilized for much-needed health care facility expansion in an economically-depressed region of Eastern Kentucky and Appalachia,â said Tom Fern, State Director for Rural Development in Kentucky. âThis hospital has received national recognition for its quality of care, and this money will allow them to expand and build upon their success and continue providing quality health care services to the region.â
PMC was named National Hospital of the Year by the American Alliance of Healthcare Providers in November 2009. The hospital was among 400 elite health care facilities to apply for this prestigious honor. To earn this recognition, PMC competed against more than 400 hospitals, including the Mayo Clinic, the John Hopkins Hospital, Cedar-Sinai Medical Center, the Cleveland Clinic, Duke University Medical Center and Vanderbilt University.
Pikeville City Manager Donovan Blackburn said the medical center is the largest employer in Pikeville and contributes nearly $2 million to the city through the payment of occupational taxes. He went on to say that Pikeville Medicalâs success is also the cityâs success because as other cities struggle with dwindling revenues, Pikeville has actually seen growth.
âThis is a regional medical center that is very important to the city. Pikeville is a legal, financial and education hub for Eastern Kentucky and a gateway to rural communities in Virginia and West Virginia. There are half a million within a 50-mile radius â so itâs not just local people that depend on this facility,â said Blackburn. âFrom a regional standpoint it adds volume from a jobs standpoint. Everybody in this county knows someone or has family that works for Pikeville Medical Center.
âPeople in this area used to have to go out of the area for good jobs and quality medical services, but Pikeville Medical has changed that,â added Blackburn. 'And it has impact on other parts of the cityâs economy â hotels, restaurants and retail. It increases the quality of life tenfold.â
The Recovery Act was designed to spend money gradually over time in order to sustain a true recovery â with peak spending to occur early this year. While the experts agree that ARRA is already responsible for creating or saving approximately two million jobs, about 75 percent of recipients that reported on their Recover Act spending indicated their projects are less than half complete, meaning there is even more job impact from those dollars to come.
USDA Photo by Lance Cheung.
May 2, 2014