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New Fort Riley Hospital Could Open in July after Long Delays

Under Secretary of the Army Joseph W. Westphal visits the construction site of a new hospital being built on Fort Riley, Sept. 14, 2012, Fort Riley, Kan. (U.S. Army photo/Staff Sgt. Bernardo Fuller)
Under Secretary of the Army Joseph W. Westphal visits the construction site of a new hospital being built on Fort Riley, Sept. 14, 2012, Fort Riley, Kan. (U.S. Army photo/Staff Sgt. Bernardo Fuller)

FORT RILEY, Kan. -- Officials say Fort Riley's long-delayed new hospital is one step closer to opening and could do so by the end of July.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officials told U.S. Rep. Tim Huelskamp's office that since Wednesday, the Army has been able to begin using the facility while the remaining construction is completed.

The Corps says the following 120 days are allotted for initial outfitting and transition, including finishing touches, such as installing fixtures and equipment.

If all goes according to schedule, the building will likely open for patients in mid- to late July.

The Corps didn't immediately respond to the Manhattan (Kan.) Mercury's request for comment.

The new Irwin Army Community Hospital was most recently set to open in January, but officials held back the date after pre-final inspections revealed a list of 357 safety deficiencies, mostly related to fireproofing.

In a letter sent to U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran in December, Assistant Secretary of the Army Katherine Hammack also cited issues resulting from construction of an expansion joint that allows the building to withstand vibrations and the curtain wall, a four-story atrium window.

The newspaper filed a Freedom of Information Act request in January seeking more information about the rest of the life-safety deficiencies, but they're still awaiting the Corps' response. Corps officials told Huelskamp's office that the list of deficiencies has been reduced to four.

Meanwhile, several lawsuits filed by subcontractors are pending. At least four subcontractors have sued the project contractor, Balfour-Watson, citing unnecessary setbacks to the construction process and faculty management issues.

Officials said legal proceedings status won't affect when the hospital opens.

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