Cost of Fletcher Allen development project

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(Host) Vermont’s top hospital regulator says a new report should help Fletcher Allen Health Care trim costs from its expensive development project.

The state asked an independent architectural firm to review the hospital’s plans.

VPR’s John Dillon reports:

(Dillon) The cost estimates for the Fletcher Allen project continue to climb.

The state Department of Banking, Insurance, Securities, and Health Care Administration hired consultants from Seattle to review the hospital’s buildings plans.

They concluded last week that the redevelopment work – known as the Renaissance project – will cost 370 million dollars. That’s 44 million dollars more than the hospital’s latest estimates and more than twice as much as Fletcher Allen got approval to spend.

Commissioner Elizabeth Costle says there isn’t one single item that drove the price higher. She says the hospital under former chief executive William Boettcher never had an accurate estimate of project costs.

(Costle) “I think the problem was that under Boettcher it never had a budget, things weren’t coordinated so you could figure out what all the costs were. And I’m not sure that with their contractors they knew what their costs were. And I think this will give them a road map in order to be able to do that, so that they’ll first of all know where they are and won’t end up with surprises and hopefully will be able to cut down on some of these costs.”

(Dillon) The hospital needs to come back to the state for approval to spend money on the project. That permit process is called a certificate of need review. Fletcher Allen spokesman Mike Noble says administrators are still reviewing the entire Renaissance project.

(Noble) “The next step is to take these costs, pull them apart and then determine what costs can be trimmed from the project. We look forward to reviewing the numbers and continuing discussions with the state about this matter as we develop our amended certificate of need.”

(Dillon) The state says Fletcher Allen misled regulators about the true cost of the project.

The financial scandal has cost several top hospital executives their jobs.

Meanwhile, state and federal prosecutors continue their criminal investigations of the Fletcher Allen project.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m John Dillon.

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