What the "H"?

[Photo: Santiam Memorial Hospital]
Santiam Memorial Hospital

STAYTON, OREGON - Think HUD and you think housing, right?

That only makes sense since, after all, HUD provides rent subsidies to some 50,000 Oregon households through its Section 8 and public housing programs and, over the last decade, has endorsed more than 135,000 mortgages for Oregon homebuyers.

But housing isn't the only thing the "H" in HUD denotes. It also stands for "hospitals."

Like the Santiam Memorial Hospital in Stayton, Oregon, just about 15 miles southeast of Salem. The 40-bed facility first opened its doors in 1953 and has undergone numerous expansions and upgrades since, the most recent in 1994 when it doubled its space.

But it's time, Memorial Hospital chief executive officer Terry Fletchall told The Statesman Journal. "This is really a growing and vibrant community and patients are more in tune with their own health care needs," he said. "We're adapting," he added, but "we just don't have any room."

The solution? A brand-new, four-story, 40,000 square-foot patient tower that's been in the works, said Fletchall, "for a long period." And that's where the "H" in HUD comes in. To obtain financing, the Hospital went to the Federal Housing Administration, a part of HUD, and its Section 242 Hospital Mortgage Insurance Program. It insures mortgages made by private lending institutions to finance construction or renovation of acute care hospitals including major equipment needed to operate the facility.

"Why would a hospital want to get any more tangled up with a Federal program?" you might be asking. Simple. By using FHA mortgage insurance, over the life of the loan the Hospital is expected to save some $12.4 million in interest costs. "This is the right plan, the right financing and the right time," said Fletcher.

Beyond the additional space, beyond the better health care and beyond the savings, there's another huge benefit coming when the project breaks ground later this fall. Jobs. The construction, HUD has estimated, will support some 390 jobs. And once the patient tower opens, reports The Statesman Journal, the Hospital expects to add 40 to 50 new, permanent staff positions. All told, the project will generate an estimated $73.1 million in economic activity.

"FHA is helping to build state-of-the-art health care facilities like this all across the country," said FHA Commissioner David Stevens. "By helping to make these projects possible, FHA also contributes to the financial well-being of communities by creating jobs to stimulate local economies."

Who knows. At least in Stayton, maybe the "H" in HUD stands for "hurrah!"


Content Archived: December 23, 2013