UNM postpones vote to plan new medical facility

Copyright © 2017 Albuquerque Journal

University of New Mexico’s latest plan for a new hospital has hit its first speed bump.

The school’s governing board has postponed voting on a request from UNM Hospital to proceed with more detailed planning for the first phase of a “modern medical facility.” Hospital administrators are seeking approval to hire an architectural firm and create construction documents for a 120-bed facility they estimate will cost between $230 million and $250 million and which they say is necessary to meet community demand and improve efficiency.

The UNM regents’ three-member Health Sciences Center committee on Tuesday had unanimously approved the request, advancing it to the full regents board. It appeared on the agenda for Thursday’s Board of Regents meeting but was removed hours before the session.

Regents President Rob Doughty told the Journal the board would delay a vote until Health Sciences Center leaders could update the state Board of Finance. The Board of Finance does not have to sign off on the request to move forward with architectural design and construction documents, but its approval is required to build the hospital. UNM’s last new hospital effort stalled about four years ago when the Board of Finance never held a vote on it.

“I just think this is the best way to proceed,” Doughty said. “Everybody is going to be in the decision regarding the new modern medical facility (and) informed as to the progress.”

He said he did not anticipate the Board of Finance “having any issue with” UNM Hospitals’ current request.

A specific funding proposal has not been presented.

The Board of Finance includes Gov. Susana Martinez, Lt. Governor John Sanchez, state Treasurer Tim Eichenberg, and other members appointed by the governor with consent of the state Senate.

Health Sciences Center Chancellor Paul Roth said he was told Thursday morning that the regents were taking the matter off the day’s agenda. He said David Harris, UNM’s executive vice president of administration and chief operating and financial officer, was attempting to get the hospital’s request heard at the Board of Finance’s June meeting.

He declined to comment about whether taking the latest request to the board could affect the project.

“I appreciate the regents’ concerns and look forward to meeting with the Board of Finance,” he said.

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