HOLLIDAYSBURG - The Blair County commissioners were asked Tuesday to approve an agreement that will provide $1 million in state financing to Altoona Regional Health System for an upgrade of the electrical system at the hospital's Outpatient Center.
The building will have a linear accelerator that will provide radiation treatment for cancer patients and a heart catheterization machine - both of which need a great deal of power to operate, Altoona Regional Chief Operating Officer Ron McConnell said.
"We need to upgrade the power to that building," he told the commissioners.
Commissioners Diane Meling and Ted Beam were briefed about the project by McConnell and Altoona-Blair County Development Corp. Deputy Executive Director Patrick Miller.
The two commissioners said that a vote will be taken next week on the request. Commissioner Chairman Terry Tomassetti was not present at Tuesday's meeting.
Altoona Regional is to receive $1 million through the Pennsylvania Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program for the electrical upgrade, McConnell said. The state money will come through a fund in the state Office of Budget that provides grants for economic development and other purposes.
The health system will chip in $1.3 million of its own money for the project costing a total of $2.3 million.
McConnell outlined the importance of the project for the commissioners, noting that when the Outpatient Center was initially constructed in 1987, it was not designed to provide the services that will now be housed there.
ABCD has spent a couple of years attempting to obtain the state grant, Miller said.
To get the money, the county must sign a cooperation agreement with ABCD for administration of the grant.
The county will agree to pick up all costs of the project that are ineligible for funding under the regulations of the the state program, but ABCD will sign an agreement with the county to pay all such costs - if there are any, Miller said.
This means the county is not risking any of its funds by approving the agreement, Miller said.
County solicitor Nathan Karn said he will spend the next week reviewing the agreements that must be approved. He said there have been numerous projects in the past financed in a similar manner and the hospital has not ended up incurring non-eligible costs.
Altoona Regional wants to begin the project in October and complete it in April, McConnell said.