Geriatric health facility ‘coming along pretty well’

By CANDY NEAL
cneal@dcherald.com

HUNTINGBURG — A geriatric behavioral health facility will be completed at the former St. Joseph’s Hospital site by the end March.

The goal is to start accepting patients by the end of April, project consultant Randy Holland of Assurance Health told the Huntingburg Common Council Tuesday night.

“It’s coming along pretty well,” he said. “We are excited to get this completed.”

Assurance Health is an Indianapolis company that owns and operates six geriatric sites in Indiana, Ohio and Texas. Assurance is working for Dr. Ijaz Mahmood and Huntingburg Partners to complete the local facility. Mahmood, who is an oncologist and hematologist in Kentucky, said previously that the facility will be called Crossroads Behavioral Health, and will offer services for people of all ages in different categories, such as veterans’ post-traumatic stress disorder and the elderly dealing with dementia.

The facility is destined to have 40 beds total, Mahmood said. But there will be room to add additional services in the future. One floor will focus on treatment for issues like addiction and substance abuse, as well as services for veterans dealing with PTSD. There will be 24 beds available for patients on that floor. A second floor will focus on behavioral health geared to the elderly, and will include 16 beds.

So far, the first phase of the project has been done. The second floor of the facility has been remodeled to make it into the 16-bed geriatric psychiatric facility, Holland explained Tuesday.

Administrative offices have been placed on the first floor, the basement has been remodeled to include a kitchen, an elevator has been replaced and the walkway in the back that tied the building to another building has been closed off.

About $5.5 million has been spent, Holland said. The second phase, which will include the rest of the work, will cost about $10 million, he said.

After St. Joseph’s Hospital closed in 2007, Mahmood, who was working with a group of people at the time, bought the site. In 2014, developer Miller-Valentine Group purchased some of the property from Mahmood and developed The Lofts at St. Joseph’s, which has 45 apartments for seniors. The Lofts opened in August 2016.

Mahmood publicly confirmed plans for Crossroads Behavioral Health last April.

The facility is on track to be completed by March 31, Holland said Tuesday. After surveys and inspections are completed, the goal is to have the facility open for patients by the last week of April, he said.

Staff is also being hired from the local community. After his presentation, Holland was scheduled to interview someone waiting for him downstairs who was interested in a maintenance position at the facility, he said.

When the north side of the site was developed into The Lofts at St. Joseph’s, the city gave Miller-Valentine a $50,000 economic development grant for the project, Mayor Denny Spinner said. The council could also give Huntingburg Partners a $50,000 economic development grant to be used for the development of Crossroads Behavioral Health, he said. Money for the grant has been set aside in the city’s economic development income tax fund.

The council introduced an ordinance to give Huntingburg Partners the $50,000 grant. Because Councilmen Jeff Bounds and Tim Wehr were not at Tuesday’s meeting, the ordinance will be considered for adoption at the council’s next meeting, which is at 5:30 p.m. March 12 on the second floor of City Hall, 508 E. Fourth St.

Two-thirds of the board needs to be at a meeting to consider final adoption of an ordinance on the same night it is introduced.

The Huntingburg Economic Development Commission will consider a tax abatement request from Huntingburg Parters for Crossroads Behavioral Health. The meeting will be held at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, March 7, in the council chambers of City Hall.

The council also:

• Held a public hearing and then approved a confirmatory resolution to establish an economic revitalization area and a tax abatement for Wagon Works Apartments, the $8 million, 56-unit workforce housing complex Paragus is developing at the former Wagon Works site, 419 N. Washington St. No one from the public commented. The the 10-year abatement that was approved last year was capped at $325,000. Investors have been reluctant to invest in the project because of concerns that the amount would be exhausted before the 10 years were completed. The new abatement removes the cap.

• Approved a memorandum of understanding between Huntingburg Gas and Jasper Gas to transfer six Huntingburg gas customers who live near State Road 56 to Jasper Gas.

• Held a public hearing and introduced the ordinance to vacate Market Street as a public street, which would turn the street over to the Huntingburg Park Board. No one from the public commented. The ordinance will be considered for approval at the council’s March 12 meeting.

• Introduced an ordinance correcting some minor errors City Attorney Phil Schneider made in the water fees ordinance. The ordinance will be considered for approval at the council’s March 12 meeting.

• Transferred into the city’s general fund surplus earnings from utility funds: $225,000 each from gas and electric and $50,000 from water.




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