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November 07, 2019

Pioneers Healthcare District Scuttles Expansion Despite Funding Effort

July 4, 2019

      Despite recently requesting funding through Imperial County to assist with a $26 million expansion, Pioneers Memorial Healthcare District in Brawley has cancelled the project, officials said.


     The vision was for building and equipping a 44,000-square-foot structure on property adjacent to the hospital with construction beginning in late 2019. It could have created more than 100 jobs, a county official said.


     In early June, $3 million for the expansion had been among the projects Imperial County was including in its plan to seek funding through the U.S. Department of Commerce's Economic Development Administration. The remaining cost was to have been arranged by Pioneers.


     But the district soon decided the project would not continue.


     "We (Pioneers) got word June 18 this project will not go forward," said Ryan Kelly, a district administrator who is also chairman of the county board of supervisors. "It's all on paper. It was projected plans--a wish list."


     Responding to questions about the project’s origin, Larry Lewis, district chief executive officer, said it was decided other priorities were more important.


     "In discussing this project further, it become obvious to the district that the timing would not fit under this particular grant funding opportunity. However, as mentioned, we’re always looking towards the future in strengthening our service lines for the years to come," Lewis said.


     He added, "At present, our Pioneers Calexico Health Center expansion project is near completion. Meanwhile, our cath lab is continuing to move forward and will be the first of its kind for Imperial County when completed at the end of 2019."


     The $3 million request was a marker to keep funding viable for the Imperial County Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy through the Commerce Dept., Kelley added.


     "It was just a placeholder for potential development," he said. "There were no building plans or permits filed. The application for funding kept our (Pioneers’) project on the CEDS list.”


     Kelley added a $23 million local match was not secured: "We've (Pioneers) not committed any future resources into the development of this idea."


     Prior to the project being dropped, Esperanza Colio Warren, deputy county executive officer, noted it could bring needed healthcare to Imperial County, a medically underserved area.


     Part of the funding depended upon the number of permanent jobs the project would create and estimates put that figure at about 120, Colio Warren said.


     Explaining the federal grant requirements, Colio Warren added, "We have to provide a description of the whole county; population, demographics, the number of low income, the level of education different segments of the population have attained and the unemployment rate to prepare a more complete picture to obtain funding."

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