The nearly 90-year-old hospital in Friend will become a construction site this summer after voters last week overwhelmingly approved a life-saving measure.
Nearly 80 percent of voters approved an $800,000 bond issue, which will pay for a new electrical system at Warren Memorial Hospital. Construction will begin as soon as the bonds are issued and the hospital board hires an electrician.
“We couldn’t go until it passed,” board member Nick Vehla said Monday. “Now we’re hot and heavy about getting it done.”
The hospital, part of the Friend Community Healthcare System, employs about 50 people, sees about four patients a day and serves northwest Saline County and southwest Seward County with an emergency room.
Supporters of the bond issue warned the hospital would close without it: If its electrical system isn’t compliant with code by the end of the year, the hospital would lose the Medicare funding it needs to stay open.
The state Fire Marshal’s Office inspected the hospital in 2016, and determined its generator was outdated and much of its wiring was out of compliance. The work is expected to cost about $600,000, but the board asked for a bond request of up to $800,000 to cover any surprises.
The hospital will stay open and fully functioning during the electrical renovation, Vehla said.
Voters in the hospital district, which covers parts of Saline and Seward counties, approved the proposal by an unofficial count of 419 to 119.