BALLINGER – Ballinger Memorial Hospital has been undergoing a major overhaul due to severe water damage following rains in November. What was a tragic event that required the complete remodeling of the interior of the hospital, may have had a silver lining, because now, the hospital will have a slate of new state of the art equipment, new wiring, new plumbing and remodeled lab and X-ray areas at no cost to taxpayers.

Rhett Fricke, CEO of the Ballinger Memorial Hospital District, gave an update on the project at the Ballinger Noon Lions Club on Thursday, April 13.

Fricke explained that the damage occurred when the roof which had been repaired, was “not secured properly.”

“Water penetrated every square inch of this hospital,” Fricke said.

The hospital is covered by insurance, which covered the more than half of the damage. Fricke said the rest of the cost was covered by cash reserves.

The total cost of the project was $2.5 million, Fricke said, reiterating that it was paid for through insurance and cash reserves.

“Not adding any debt is unheard of for a project like this,” Fricke said.

The project required the complete remediation of the hospital which was built in 1962. The project called for the remediation of both asbestos and mold. While there was no significant mold detected, the hospital is now certified as “mold free,” and “asbestos free.”

“No mold was ever airborne to staff or patients during this process,” Fricke said.

The hospital, which is licensed for 25 beds, will feature a new state of the art expanded lab area and lab work can now be done in house, Fricke said.

“We doubled the space in the lab,” he said. “We are replacing every piece of equipment.”

Fricke said in the fall, the plans are to offer drug screens.

The project also included a new Radiology Suite, which has all new equipment that is completely digital. This part of the hospital was expected to be ready to use this week, he said.

In addition, a new 32 slice CT scan machine has been added to the hospital, which became functional at the end of March.

“We are the only rural hospital north of San Antonio to have a 32 slice CT scan,” Fricke said. “The technology is less than a year old.”

Every patient room has been enhanced, he said, with the addition of 12 to 15 feet of space. Plus, each patient room now features Direct TV.

The plumbing and infrastructure has been completely replaced as well. All water and wastewater lines have been replaced.

In addition the emergency room has been enhanced. Fricke said that all of the physicians who are on staff including Chief of Staff Dr. Bradley Bundrant, Dr. Daniel Heimbecker, Dr. Eldridge Burns and Dr. Alan Hardwicke, have had input on the project throughout the process.

The project was originally set to be completed by February, however, the insurance expanded what they covered and allowed more work to be done. The target date for completion by the end of June.

“We will be in 90 percent of the hospital by the end of May,” Fricke said.

He added that with the overhaul, the hospitals capabilities are “on par with hospitals in Brownwood, San Angelo and Abilene.”

Fricke praised the CNA Insurance and Frost Insurance, the hospital’s agent broker for the project.

“They have been engaged with the entire process,” Fricke said.

He praised the hospital staff who have been patient and worked through the construction that forced offices, and hospital facilities to be moved to portable buildings.

He also praised the community for their support.

“It has been amazing how the community has responded,” Fricke said.