Kimball Health Services proposes new building to address aging facility, population growth

KIMBALL, NE — After over 70 years of operating in the same location, Kimball Health Services is ready for a new home.

“We had a remodel in 2002 for about 30 percent of the hospital," Kimball Health Services (KHS) CEO Kenneth Hunter said. "The other 70 percent is original construction from 1950. It’s reached its end of life.”

Hospital officials recently proposed a new facility that would be more than double the size of the existing hospital. At roughly 60-thousand square feet, Hunter says it will allow the hospital to offer more services and care to residents.

“Currently we only have room, we can tax a maximum of six patients," Hunter said. "That would be expanded to be able to take up to 14.”

The plan put forth includes larger inpatient rooms, an expanded and modernized surgical suite and ER and additional space for preoperative and postoperative care of surgical patients. Services like mammography, cardiac rehab and chemotherapy infusion would also be available at the new complex. 

If the proposal becomes reality, the project will renovate the former West Elementary School building. What used to be the students' playground would become part of the new hospital.

Tuesday night, the hospital received a letter of support from the Kimball County Commissioners. The next step is to get a loan from the USDA for the project, which hospital officials are well into the process of applying for. 

The total cost of the project is about $32 million. According to financial estimates from KHS, the loan would cover about 75 percent of the costs. Hunter says no taxes would be increased for the project.

“We had a study done by our CPA firm, a feasibility study, and they felt like we could cash flow [the project]," Hunter said. "That’s what we’re proposing.”

In addition to that, KHS officials say that due to the hospital's status as a critical access hospital, they can expect Medicare to reimburse them for about 52 percent of the project. 

With a recent influx of people moving to town and more expected as part of the Air Force’s upcoming missile project, Hunter says it's time to get things moving.

“Right now today, I’ve never seen it like this," Hunter said. "You can’t, you know houses sell within a couple of days. With the missile project really getting off the ground in 2025, we’d like to be able to be ready for that.”

Kimball Health Services will hold public meetings to discuss the project with members of the community on Tuesday, April 13, at 4:00 and 7:00 p.m. The meetings will be held at the Kimball County Transit Services building.