DSHS and NAC Architecture present master plan
The Department of Social Health Services (DSHS) and NAC Architecture presented a draft of their Medical Lake Infrastructure Master Plan for Eastern State Hospital, Lakeland Village, Pine Lodge and Westlake campuses, at a July 23 public hearing.
Kelly Lerner, DSHS project manager, explained that the project began two years ago with the goal to address some of the electrical and mechanical issues at Lakeland Village. Lerner said she brought the project to the state legislature, who did not fund the project, but gave DSHS money to come up with a comprehensive master plan.
Lerner said the plan is to assess the current conditions of the buildings and come up with immediate (0-2 years), short-term (6-10 years) long-term and (10-20 years) plans.
“We’re looking at where we can reduce our footprint, share services and save money through operational costs,” Lerner said. “We also have to address and prioritize our repair and replacement needs and trying to figure out how to secure the long-term viability of these campuses while still being thrifty because this is money coming out of our pockets.”
Bill Rash of NAC Architecture presented some of the immediate and short-term recommendations, including mechanical, electrical and infrastructure upgrades to all of the campuses.
Rash also suggested demolishing some of the empty buildings to beautify the landscape.
“A lot of these buildings are vacant and closed, but they’re still kind of an attractive nuisance,” Rash said. “They can (also) be a liability for the campus.”
Rash estimated the cost for the upgrades is $81.3 million. He said the electrical upgrade for Lakeland Village is the biggest contributor to the cost.
John Chory of Trinity Health Group gave recommendations and improvements for the programs for both campuses. He said while Eastern State Hospital’s population is projected to grow a little, the building is not big enough to accommodate the expected growth. He recommended moving the administration offices and constructing a new activities therapy mall and new entrance.
Chory also suggested taking some of the existing stonework and work it into the architecture to honor the heritage.
Another suggestion is to expand forensics service units (FSU) on the second and third floors. Chory said the units are undersized and can get overcrowded. The project would also provide private rooms for residents.
“Overcrowding causes a lot of problems,” Chory said. “It exacerbates psychiatric problems. It is hard on the staff to have this type of environment.”
Another recommendation from Chory was to demolish the administration building at Lakeland and construct a smaller entry facility with offices, a conference area and a museum.
Some mid-term projects include more infrastructure upgrade while long-term projects would include constructing a new nursing facility at Lakeland Village and new adult psychiatric units and FSU campus at the Westlake campus.
Medical Lake City Councilwoman Shirley Maike asked when the plan would go to the legislature. Lerner said NAC is finalizing the plan while DSHS is putting their project proposals together.
Maike asked where demolitions are at in DSHS’ prioritization and Lerner said they are under major projects. Chory said there is a chance that the community can salvage some of the items in the empty buildings.
Al Stover can be reached at email@example.com.