SHS facility

Dirt is lined up where a groundbreaking ceremony will be held today at 9 a.m. for the new Syringa Chalet Nursing Facility at State Hospital South. The current facility is shown in the background.

BLACKFOOT — Work on a new Syringa Chalet Nursing Facility at State Hospital South is set to begin today with a groundbreaking ceremony at 9 a.m. at the site at 700 E. Alice.

Officials set to attend the groundbreaking include Dave Jeppesen, director of the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, State Hospital South Administrator Jim Price, Sen. Steve Bair, R-Blackfoot, Rep. Neil Anderson, R-Blackfoot, Rep. Julianne Young, R-Blackfoot, Blackfoot Mayor Marc Carroll, and Idaho Behavioral Health Administrator Ross Edmunds.

Construction is expected to cost $35 million and includes architecture and engineering, construction, permits, equipment, furniture, capitalized interest for the bond, and demolition of the existing nursing home, a state Health and Welfare news release said.

The Idaho Legislature passed Senate Concurrent Resolution 140 in 2018 that authorized Health and Welfare to enter into an agreement with the Idaho State Building Authority to obtain bond financing for the new nursing home. The bonds were issued in the fall.

Layton Construction is the general contractor for the project. Price said they put out a bid package for some initial work, including excavation, site work, foundation work, relocating utility lines, and removing some trees. Tuesday was the deadline to respond to those bids, he said.

“The nursing home serves as a safety net for the residents, many of whom can’t be treated in other nursing homes around the state and cannot return to their communities,” Price said in the release. “The new facility will be safer and have more capacity as it also preserves a feeling of home for our residents, who are mentally ill and gravely disabled and require skilled nursing care.”

The new facility will be licensed and accredited for 36 to 42 beds when it opens and eventually will be licensed and have the capacity to increase to 59 beds to meet the needs of Idaho’s aging population. The current facility can handle 29 residents, which is the current census. The residents will be moved into the new facility when it is completed in July 2020.

The current building was constructed in 1938 and later retro-fitted to become a 29-bed skilled nursing home. The building was originally used as a medical clinic and surgical hospital.

Price said this will be the first new facility at State Hospital South since 1988.

“As soon as the new home is constructed, residents will be moved to the new home and the existing home will be demolished,” he said. “This is very exciting, I’ve been looking forward to it for several years.”

State Hospital South is one of two state psychiatric hospitals administered by the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare. It is licensed to serve 90 adult patients, 16 adolescent patients, along with the residents in the Syringa Chalet. It is accredited by the Joint Commission.