Roughly nine months has passed from the passage of a May 2013 bond election, and no dirt has officially turned for work associated with the Seminole Hospital District's $48.5 million expansion/renovation project to the Memorial Hospital and Memorial Health Care Center facilities.

But SHD officials hope that soon changes over the next 4 weeks.

"We're very eager to get this project up and going, just like everyone else," said Betsy Briscoe, Chief Executive Officer of the Seminole Hospital District on Friday morning. "We originally had plans to begin breaking ground in December, and that didn't happen. Then we moved it back to January, and then again nothing happened and here we are now at the end of February with no work started."

Geoff Gray, SHD Board President stated the delayed start of the bond project primarily pertained to the finalization of the design/development phase of the project's scope between SHD officials, and those with Parkhill, Smith and Cooper and Lee Lewis Construction, Inc., who are serving as the architecture oversight and construction manager at-risk, respectively, for the project.

"The engineers and architects are going through and finalizing the design of the project, making sure there are not any mistakes and that we get this (project) right the first time," said Gray.

Both Briscoe and Gray confirmed project officials are now targeting a mid-March start for work associated with the project. Briscoe, in her Friday morning interview, stated project officials are now projecting a more conservative 30-to-36 month building schedule for work associated with the bond project. Earlier news accounts had project officials stating completion of the work would be done within a 24 month window.

"We gave ourselves some time to account for any weather or supply delays that we may encounter with the project," said Briscoe.

Project plans call for the construction of a new two-level emergency/operating room wing facility adjacent to the current emergency room facility at Memorial Hospital, according to previous news accounts written by the Seminole Sentinel. Ground level facilities for the new addition would feature the hospital's emergency room facility, which would include four ER patient rooms, one cardiac room, two trauma rooms, one isolation room, two storage rooms, three treatment rooms, and four urgent care rooms. In addition, the ER facility would see an enlarged waiting area, with a holding capacity of 35-to-40 people, and separate patient entrances for emergency personnel and patients/visitors.

The second level of the facility would house the hospital's operating room department, complete with two full-sized operating room and one Caesarean section operating room, which could easily convert over to a full operating room in the event of additional surgical needs.

General patient rooms for the facility would remain on the ground level of the hospital's floor plans, according to drawings presented in Monday's meeting, while an expanded Labor/Delivery Dept. and Outpatient Surgery wing would be constructed on top of the campus' current patient wings.

Additions at the Memorial Health Care Center will see the addition of 16 new rooms, broken into four, four-patient "pods," which would have the capability of housing Alzheimer's patients.

In late August 2013, officials with the SHD Board Directors authorized the issuance of debt service for the $48.5 million bond, which included the  issuance of "Texas General Obligation Bonds, Series 2013A," valued at $41.97 million, and the issuance of "Texas General Obligations Bonds, Taxable Series 2013B," valued at over $6.49 million, according to information provided by FirstSouthwest bond financial officials.

Repayment of the $41.97 million Series 2013A bond, according to a schedule provided in Tuesday's meeting, is projected to run through the 2034 calendar year, while the $6.49 million Series 2013B bond is anticipated to be repaid by the 2018 calender year.

According to FirstSouthwest figures, the $48.5 million bond issuance possesses a blended interest rate of 4.51-percent, which will see SHD taxpayers paying just over 6.5-cents per $100 valuation toward the debt service for the bond issuance.

In late November 2013, Lee Lewis Construction, Inc. was selected by SHD Board members to serve as the construction manager at-risk (CMAR) for the project, which was developed by McKinstry, a full-service design, build, operate and maintain (DBOM) firm hired by the local hospital district for the development project.