By Sarah Elmquist Squires
The Riverton Medical District secured the land needed for the region’s new hospital – eight acres purchased in the Eastern Shoshone Business Park, along with another four that were donated to the project. It’s the latest step forward for the community-led effort to bring cutting edge health care to Fremont County.
The four additional donated acres came from the Shoshone Indian Tribe Tribal Acquisition (SITTA) LLC. “We are full of gratitude for SITTA and land developer Steve Wilson for their commitment to this project, and for standing beside us as we worked to secure the funding for this land,” said Riverton Medical District Board Chair Corte McGuffey in a statement. “This land ownership now allows the next phase of building our new state-of-the-art hospital to begin. We’re excited to take this important step and look forward to bringing a locally owned and locally governed health care option to our area.”
“We are pleased that the hospital project for Riverton Medical District is going forward,” Chairman John St. Clair of the Eastern Shoshone Tribe said in a release. “The project will benefit Fremont County and the Wind River Indian Reservation by expanding much needed medical services at reasonable rates.”
The new, $54-million hospital is expected to break ground as soon as it thaws. Engineering designs are expected to be completed in the coming weeks, from Erdman Anthony out of Portland, Maine. Once that work is complete, construction subcontracting bids will be let, expected in late February. Sampson Construction out of Cheyenne will handle construction using a “construction management at-risk” process, under which a construction firm is selected that commits to a guaranteed maximum price. Local subcontractors for all but the most technical of the work are expected to be used.
The 12 acres will accommodate future growth for the hospital, with a portion expected to be used to “meet the needs of future pandemics,” Riverton Medial District Board member Vivian Watkins told legislative leaders during a panel session earlier this year. The land set aside for that purpose will allow the new hospital to include a triage area in the parking lot, where medical teams can provide testing and other services without having potentially infected people enter the facility.
Late last year, the district announced it had secured the needed $54 million for the project, including a Wyoming Loan and Investment Board $10 million grant, as well as a $37 million low-interest USDA Rural Development Community Facilities loan – the largest such award in Wyoming history.