Life Resource Center rebuild to design stage

Apr 29, 2016 By Christina George, Staff Writer

The Wyoming Legislature this year voted to appropriate $9 million for the level-three design phase of the dual project, which would precede full funding for the renovation.

Proposals are now being accepted from companies interested in doing the next design phase for renovations at the Wyoming Life Resource Center in Lander and the Wyoming State Hospital in Evanston.

The Wyoming Legislature this year voted to appropriate $9 million for the level-three design phase of the dual project, which would precede full funding for the renovation.

"The level one and two design phases were conceptual designs that identified needs and possible solutions," said State Rep. Lloyd Larsen, R-Lander. "Now, the design will start having the blue prints ready for construction."

Larsen said the request for qualifications information on the projects became available March 24 for companies interested in the level-three design.

The bid package requires interested firms to provide a primary design for both facilities, along with an alternate design for the WSH.

One or both

Larsen said it would be best if both facilities could be fixed at the same time, but that timeline might not be possible given the state's current financial situation.

"If funding isn't allowed, we determined the biggest challenge we have is at Evanston, so the second (proposal) would be a design of Evanston," Larsen said. "Then as other funds come in, we can approach the WLRC."

Larsen co-chairs the Joint Legislative and Executive Task Force on Department of Health Facilities charged with overhauling the two state-run health care facilities. The task force met March 3 in Cheyenne to agree on a plan for the selection of a company to conduct the next design phase.

"That meeting was important in getting everyone on board, accepting the study, and determining how we move forward and navigate the fiscal concerns we have as a state while trying to make sure vulnerable populations are taken care of," Larsen said.

The renovations and new construction will update both facilities to provide services to new populations of clients.

Institutional focus

WLRC offers services for those who are developmentally disabled and have acquired brain injuries. The task force recommended the center add intermediate and long-term care for geriatric psychiatric patients, high-needs medical patients and those who are "hard to place" or are in need of emergency placement.

The WSH, which treats residents with psychiatric needs, would focus on acute crisis-stabilization care.

The task force will select three or four of the firms that applied for interview presentations in April. The project should be awarded to a firm by mid-May, Larsen said.

The selected company will have until Feb. 1, 2017, to complete the design for the WSH. The deadline will come in the middle of the 2017 legislative session, which will give the Legislature time to appropriate construction funds to the project, Larsen said.

The design for WLRC will follow but will not be completed sooner than May 1, 2017, he added.

The Legislature this year approved $70 million to add to $80 million previously appropriated for the projects. Some funding is based on anticipated earnings from the state's investments.

The WLRC and WSH projects came up several times during the recent legislative session. One question was whether the state should appropriate funding to projects it may not be able to complete due to low revenues.

"I wasn't surprised, and I think the discussion was fair," Larsen said. "I don't think anybody has a question or opposition to the fact that we have to address the conditions at WSH and the conditions at WLRC."

Another concern raised at session was how the Wyoming Retirement Center in Basin, a third state-run health care facility, would be impacted by the changes of services at the WLRC and WSH.

"There was a lot of effort to stop the changes in Lander in hopes that maybe it would shift those patients we transfer from Evanston to Lander ... to Basin," Larsen said. "But over the last two years, the task force determined the patient load Basin can handle and can't, and we decided (patients) will go to Lander from Evanston."

The task force should decide this year what should be done with the retirement center.

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