Novemeber 14, 2013 - We recently evaluated a hospital that had previously closed; one of a few in our area similarly positioned for some type of reuse ( Buffalo - Western New York area ). Quite a dilemma – what can be done with these buildings once they are no longer needed in the medical industry? As we continued to research we learned that there are some creative and interesting renovations being done throughout the country to turn hospitals and medical centers into useful and economically viable structures.
Recently in Kansas, there is talk of converting a neurological institute into housing for the disabled. Not only would the conversion keep a building from becoming abandoned, but it would allow people to stay in their homes and refrain from adding to the long list of community-based housing and services for the disabled. Committee member David Crumm stated “I just think that if we’re able to drop some of the things that we’re having to do to meet the CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) mandates that come with being an institution, we could lower some of our costs and a majority of the individuals at KNI would not have to leave and, probably, would see very little change,” (Dave Ranney, KHI News Service).
The most interesting case found throughout our research is that of the transition from a psychiatric hospital to a housing complex for veterans in New Jersey. There certainly is a need as an estimated 4,000-8,000 veterans are homeless in the state of New Jersey alone. Many of these individuals are finding shelter in alleys, doorways, and makeshift campsites. “The transitional housing — which gives homeless soldiers a place to stay for up to two years while giving them access to mental health care and social services — fills a gigantic need that will only grow as the United States winds down from two decade-long wars on foreign soil. Veterans advocates say men and women returning from Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from high rates of PTSD and traumatic brain injury — a result of the desert-style guerrilla tactics waged in both countries. Those same vets might return to New Jersey to find their jobs or homes — or both — lost to the Great Recession… for many, the return to the homefront is not guaranteed to be a smooth one.” (Star-Ledger Editorial Boar)
Conducting an auction to sell the medical equipment is the easy part. However, once the various assets that make the building a hospital are sold and removed there are many difficult decisions for ownership to make as most of these buildings are challenging reuse projects. It is encouraging to see that there are creative solutions being used to convert these buildings into economically beneficial structures.