In the first public showing before the Wadena City Council, Tuesday, Sept. 10, Tri-County Health Care President and CEO Joel Beiswenger laid out schematics of a 120,000-square foot hospital that could cost around $67 million.

Beiswenger told council members that the schematic phase was complete and he showed off the aerial view of what the hospital shape will look like, including the planned placement of the building off Hwy 10 west of Wadena and departments within that structure.

"Nothing is quite final yet, but we're probably pretty close to where this is going to end up landing," Beiswenger said.

Beiswenger said, if MnDOT allows, their patient traffic would come in off Hwy 10, while staff would be coming in off 11th Street. To make this entry safer, Beiswenger said they are hoping to slow traffic down at the Hwy 10 entry.

"Our original discussion with them does not guarantee us an access directly off Hwy. 10, it's something they say needs more analysis," Beiswenger said. He is hopeful to have that Hwy 10 access as he envisions people missing the 11th Street turn and having to turn around down the road after driving by, creating a potential traffic hazard.

Beiswenger said at this point the planned construction would only effect about 1 - 2 acres of wetlands. He mentioned the 76-acre property would allow them to expand in the future. Included on the site is a garden area for patient or family enjoyment. There's also room for other business opportunities into the future.

The reason for coming before the council was to hold a public hearing as was necessary for much of the funding of the project through the United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development Community Facilities Loan program. Along with Beiswenger, was TCHC CFO Kim Aagard and Tom Mayfield, with National Healthcare Capital LLC, who explained the financing avenues, of not only the new hospital project, but to also refinance other previous construction projects done by TCHC. Combining those project finances added up to $81 million.

Tri-County Health Care communications specialist, Jessica Sly said that number includes the $67 million new hospital/clinic cost and $14 million in refinancing of current debt.

Tri-County will require financing for most of the project. Tri-County anticipates that two-thirds, or $54 million of the long-term financing will be a direct loan from the USDA. The remaining portion will be tax-exempt. Because the City of Wadena will use a portion of the bonding capacity for City purposes, the City of Bertha has been asked to assist with the remaining debt issuance.

In order to issue the debt, the following steps must happen: The City of Wadena, having jurisdiction over the location, must authorize the City of Bertha to issue tax-exempt debt for remodeling on the existing site; and the City of Bertha must issue non-bank-qualified, tax-exempt debt for both sites in the entire amount of construction financing required, up to a current estimate of $81 million.

Those projects to be refinanced include: a 30,000 square foot expansion and remodel of the current hospital involving the emergency room, surgery, lab, radiology, medical records, dietary, materials management, business office and physical therapy; construction of the Bertha Clinic; construction and equipping of a 2,200 square foot expansion and remodel to the Wadena Clinic; and construction of the 16-bed short term community based residential treatment facility at 240 Shady lane Drive.

The Wadena City Council will meet at 5 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 8 or as soon thereafter as reasonably possible in the city hall, for the purpose of conducting a public hearing to consider giving host approval to the issuance by the City of Bertha of revenue obligations, in order to finance the cost of a project and refinance existing projects located in Wadena. Each of the projects will be owned and operated by Tri-County Hospital. Anyone interested can appear and be heard at the time of the hearing.