Funding Drive Set For Zeeland Hospital

    ZEELAND — Nearing a mid-June groundbreaking, Zeeland Community Hospital is laying the groundwork for a public campaign to help pay for a new $36.1 million hospital.

    Whatever is raised in the upcoming capital campaign would go to defray the costs of financing the four-level, 64-bed hospital planned for a 40-acre site at East Washington Avenue and Chicago Drive, just east of Zeeland.

    While hospital administrators have yet to set a fund-raising target, they anticipate the campaign will receive strong support.

    “Every indication we have so far is that the community is going to see this as a community project that adds to the quality of life they cherish so much,” said Robert Dean, director of the Zeeland Community Hospital Foundation. “My feeling is there is going to be a lot of people who want to be part of this.”

    An earlier analysis the foundation commissioned found strong support for the construction of a new hospital and the capacity to raise between $3 million and $5 million in contributions.

    Every dollar the capital campaign raises is one dollar less Zeeland Community will have to take on in long-term debt service, leaving the hospital better able to finance future capital investments, President Henry Veenstra said.

    Zeeland Community Hospital, for instance, wants to initiate MRI services soon after the new facility opens in 2006, Veenstra said.

    “We want to maintain some capacity to borrow if there’s some service the community needs,” he said.

    The capital campaign will kick off when the hospital begins construction in June.

    Planned is a 140,000-square-foot facility with an adjoining 28,000-square-foot office building to house administrative functions. An additional medical office building, developed by an outside developer, is also planned to house physician offices and other medical services.

    The complex will replace Zeeland Community’s aging facility southwest of downtown that’s landlocked and has no additional room for future expansion to accommodate growing patient volumes. Zeeland Community will pay for the project through the sale of $24 million in bonds, plus reserve funds and proceeds from the sale of the existing hospital campus and the capital campaign.

    The hospital foundation is presently assembling a steering committee to lead the campaign and is conducting a “quiet” outreach effort to key community and business leaders in the Zeeland area that may provide lead donations, Dean said. Among the items for the campaign committee’s consideration is naming opportunities for significant donors, he said.

    Dean hopes to see the capital campaign provide the two-year-old foundation a lift in its mission to support the hospital’s outreach efforts and capital needs.

    “I’m really looking at this as being the launching pad for our foundation,” he said. “I hope we’ll start giving traditions I’ll be able to carry on far beyond this project.”    

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