Kenai Peninsula voters will decide on four ballot propositions during this year’s October 4 municipal election.
Proposition 2 is a $4.8 million bond proposition that would finance upgrades to South Peninsula Hospital and Homer Medical Center. Both are located within the South Kenai Peninsula Hospital Service Area.
The bonds would pay for two separate projects. The first is a $1.8 million upgrade to the hospital’s operating room ventilation system, or HVAC.
South Peninsula Hospital spokesperson Derotha Ferraro says that the HVAC upgrades are necessary.
“The HVAC in the operating room is over 40 years old. When you think about things like record players, cassette tapes, and console televisions with rabbit ears, that’s the equivalent of 40-year-old technology,” said Ferraro.
Not only is it outdated, says Ferraro, but the ventilation system was not built to handle current demand.
“When it was built, the hospital was once doing several surgeries a week. Last year we did 1,565 surgeries. The demand on that system has really increased,” said Ferraro.
The remaining $3 million would be used for a 5,700-square-foot expansion of the Homer Medical Center. Ferraro says that the building is operating at peak capacity, but still isn’t meeting the demands of the community.
“Over the last three years, over 9,000 residents of our service area have been treated at Homer Medical. That’s over 65 percent of our service area. The wait for a scheduled appointment can be weeks, if not more than a month. That’s not the kind of care that our hospital wants to offer,” said Ferraro.
The Homer Medical Center expansion would add seven exam rooms, including an exam room specifically for OB-GYN appointments. Funds would also be used to put a new roof on the existing building and expand the waiting room.
Due to increased property values in the SPH service area, Bond Proposition 2 will not raise taxes.
Ferraro says the upgrades will occur regardless of whether Proposition 2 passes in October. If the proposition fails, the project will be financed with higher interest loans.
More information about 2016 Municipal Election ballot propositions is available on the Kenai Peninsula Borough website.