Plans for hospital put on hold pending BOG

Alexandra Nicolas

Even for a dollar, Missouri Southern can not afford McCune-Brooks Hospital.

Though the Carthage city council approved the sale of the vacant building to Missouri Southern for a single dollar, recent examinations may mean Southern refusing the space.

Plans for a Missouri Southern campus to open in the old McCune-Brooks Hospital facility have been delayed pending discussion at the upcoming Board of Governors meeting.

Currently no official decision has been made but financial issues surrounding the building have caused University officials to reconsider. Southern’s Physical Plant staff made a preliminary assessment of the facility and noticed a number of needed improvements.

“What we had decided at that point was to get a professional third party evaluation of the facility,” said University President Dr. Bruce Speck.

In closed session of February’s Governors meeting the Board approved the hiring of an independent firm to conduct an engineering study on the physical condition of the building.

Study results revealed necessary repairs to the roofs estimated to cost $223,000, repairs to a hydraulic passenger elevator estimated at $35,000, replacement of the freight elevator estimated at $120,000.

In addition the report showed there were an additional $31,100 in repairs to the building and a list of desired improvements.

“Then you have a yearly half a million dollars to run it,” Speck said.

Original plans for the hospital included $500,000 in state funding provided to move the Missouri State Highway Patrol’s crime lab, currently located on campus.

However, Speck said requests put in by Sen. Gary Nodler (R-Joplin) for funding were pulled in the last few weeks after Nodler expressed concern when the timetables for the move did not appear to be lining up.

“He didn’t want any of the legislators to think he was changing the rules,” Speck said.

The University’s letter of intent to obtain the facility expired as of Dec. 31, 2007 and without the agreement of both parties, the deal will be terminated.

Speck said they don’t mean to say anything negative about the building, but that the University does not have the capitol required for the necessary improvements.

“I do understand that we communicated quite clearly that we would need an operational budget,” Speck said.

Currently the future of the McCune-Brooks facility is on the agenda for the board meeting next Friday.