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RVMC expansion work begins

Parking garage will be first to be built; free valet service steps up during construction

Your favorite parking space at Rogue Valley Medical Center could disappear tomorrow.

RVMC will temporarily lose about 500 parking slots Monday when construction begins on a four-story, 625-space parking garage just west of the Smullin Center. The parking garage and a new helicopter landing pad will be the first phase of the hospital's multi-year expansion and remodeling project.

RVMC essentially plans to rebuild its 45-year-old hospital over the next three years. Construction is scheduled to begin in September on a new structure for patient rooms and medical areas such as surgery, medical imaging and emergency care. The new emergency department could open by fall 2004; the new patient rooms by late 2005.

Construction costs for the entire project have been estimated at &

36;76 million, with an additional &

36;17 million to equip, furnish and stock the new hospital. Financing for the project will come chiefly from municipal hospital bonds approved by the Medford City Council. Asante Health System, the hospital's parent company, can use the city's bonding capability because Asante is a nonprofit corporation.

Interest and principal payments on the bonds are solely Asante's responsibility.

Two large existing parking lots west of the Smullin Center will be unavailable during the garage construction, and a parking lot north of the emergency department also will disappear, said hospital spokesperson Andrea Jablonski.

The &

36;5.5 million garage could be finished as soon as September. The hospital's familiar main entrance on Barnett Road will remain open during construction, and RVMC is providing free valet parking for visitors and patients to try to reduce traffic congestion.

Red-jacketed valets have been parking cars for the past few months to get people accustomed to the new service before construction began. They pick up cars at the hospital's main entry doors and shuttle them to nearby parking areas across Barnett Road.

The valet will take your keys and give you a little ticket, Jablonski said. You can come and get your car when you're done.

The valets park cars from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. People who need to reclaim their vehicle after 7:30 p.m. can get the keys at the hospital switchboard, just down the main hall from the information desk.

People were slow to use the service at first, but interest seems to be growing, said car-parker David Cobb of Medford. A lot of people want to know how much it costs. When we tell them it's free, they say 'OK.'

The parking garage will stand 36.5- feet high, with the top floor uncovered.

DPR Construction of Portland is the lead contractor. Local subcontractors will do about 90 percent of the work, said Scott Kelly, Asante's vice president of planning, marketing and business development. Colored brick and concrete will be used to help the building fit in with the adjacent Smullin Center.

David Cobb, a parking valet for Rogue Valley Medical Center, rushes to help another visitor. The medical center is offering free valet parking to help ease congestion during construction of a new four-story parking garage that begins Monday. Mail Tribune / Jim Craven - Mail Tribune Jim Craven