Issue: Ballinger Memorial Hospital was totally remodeled and opened its doors for special event.
Local impact: Ballinger Memorial Hospital reeived $2.4 million in upgrades that would have taken 10 years for the Ballinger Memorial Hospital District to afford. The upgrades came after the roof on the hospital failed and the entire hospital had to be remodeled and the upgrades were paid for through insurance, grant funding at no cost to taxpayers.

BALLINGER – Ballinger Memorial Hospital opened its doors to the public on Tuesday, Sept. 12 to show off the newly remodeled facility to the community.

During the event visitors were able to tour areas that have been under renovation since last November. The hospital underwent a major overhaul due to severe water damage following heavy rains in November of 2016.

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 has a slate of new state of the art equipment, remodeled patient rooms, new wiring, new plumbing and remodeled lab and X-ray areas at no cost to taxpayers.

The silver lining was also that the within the confines of insurance, funding from the San Angelo Health Foundation and cash reserves, Ballinger Memorial Hospital received upgrades that were on the 10-year plan - in less than one year.

There were some areas that were closed to the public during the open house due to three emergencies that occurred at 5 p.m. right as the open house was getting underway.

“But we handled and that is what we do,” said CEO Rhett Fricke. “No one knew we were having these emergencies, because our staff is professional and handled the situations perfectly.”

Officials with the Ballinger Memorial Hospital District Board of Directors were also on hand for the event.

“You can’t say enough good things about our staff,” said Mike Dankworth, president of the Ballinger Memorial Hospital Board for the past 10 years. “We are very pleased with the progress we’ve made getting this facility in place for the next 10 years."

Visitors to the open house called the newly renovated facility wonderful.

“It is beautiful,” said Greg W. Schwertner, president of First National Bank of Ballinger. “It is state of the art.”

During the open house, about 200 citizens were greeted by the members of the Ballinger Memorial Hospital Auxiliary who conducted tours throughout the hospital. The members also passed out gift bags and t-shirts.

During the tour, BMHA members explained that every square inch of the the hospital has been remodeled.

Fricke explained that the damage occurred while the roof was undergoing repairs.

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

He said hospitals have closed for periods of time for less, but praised the staff for working throughout the event, and keeping the doors open, even while the renovations were underway.

The hospital was covered by insurance, which covered the more than half of the damage. The total cost of the project was $2.3 million, Fricke said, reiterating that it was paid for through insurance and through a grant with the San Angelo Health Foundation 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 asbestos. The hospital, which is licensed for 25 beds, features 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.

The hospital also features a new Radiology Suite, which has all new equipment that is completely digital.

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 remodeled and features all new equipment. 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 as has the

The project was originally set to be completed by February, however, the insurance expanded what they covered and allowed more work to be done.

“They have been engaged with the entire process,” Fricke said adding that the nursing staff and other staff members were also involved in the process.

Visitors were also able to look at the new ambulances which were rolled out in July.

He praised the the board and 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 contractors, insurance agent and the San Angelo Health Foundation.

"When you have that kind of support there is nothing you cannot accomplish," Fricke said. "It was just terrific team work."

He also praised the community for their support.

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