The final price tag for the new Broughton Hospital that took seven years to build and open is $154.7 million.
That’s $154.7 million of taxpayers’ money but the public won’t get to see what their money built.
The state is holding a dedication and ribbon-cutting on Wednesday but it is not open to the public, although The News Herald reported on Monday that it was open to the public.
In an email on Aug. 12, The News Herald asked about the state holding an open house for the public. On Aug. 13, a communications official with the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services said there would be an open house on Aug. 21 but never corrected The News Herald that it would not be open to the public.
On Friday, the communications official emailed The News Herald with the date and time for the dedication and ribbon-cutting, again never mentioning that it would not be open to the public. The communications official never responded to The News Herald follow-up email to once again confirm the public would be able to see the facility. In that email, the newspaper also requested information on when patients would be moved to the new hospital and whether “tweaks” to the building have been completed.
On Monday, Lindsay Saunders, a communications manager for NCDHHS, told The News Herald the dedication and ribbon-cutting would not be open to the public because the state is not equipped for the public to tour the facility.
Patients won’t move into the new hospital until late September, Saunders said.
But Saunders said more than 400 people have been invited to the dedication and ribbon-cutting, including state officials and local governments, county commissioners from the 37 counties the hospital serves, school officials, law enforcement and university partners.
Saunders said the $154.7 million total cost of the new mental health facility includes construction, design, medical equipment, furniture, which the patients had input on, telecommunications equipment and technology. Of the $154.7 million, the basic construction cost was $129.9 million, she said.
The new Broughton Hospital is a project that has taken seven years and since it started, safety standards have changed and tweaks have had to be made. Saunders said the state has been looking at the design and how it can be made safer and one of the changes the state has made is to install anti-ligature doors, hinges and hooks, as well as different paper towel dispensers.
The new Broughton Hospital will have a total of 382 beds, which is an additional 85 beds to the current 297, officials have said.
Construction on it was started in January 2012 and was supposed to be completed September 2014. The completion date was later revised to September 2015. And it continued to be revised multiple times.
The state fired AWC in April 2017, citing the delays and saying it had lost trust in the contractor. It cited “non-conforming work, the rework of which alone were sufficient to cause a substantial delay in the progress of the Project” when it fired the contractor.
AWC disputed the state’s claim, arguing it was the best contractor to finish the job. It also threatened a lawsuit for wrongful termination if it was fired.
Travelers Casualty & Surety Co. of America, the insurance company for the project, took over the Broughton Hospital build but hired back AWC, with the state’s approval, as the completion contractor.
Sharon McBrayer is a staff writer and can be reached at email@example.com or at 828-432-8946.