By ROBERT PIERCE
• Daily Leader
By a large margin, voters in Seward County approved a proposal Tuesday for the usage of government obligation bonds to fund a $17 million upgrade project for Southwest Medical Center.
According to unofficial results from the Seward County Clerk’s office, 1,119 ballots were cast in favor of the proposal, while 250 were cast against.
Hospital president and CEO Norm Lambert appreciated the support the proposition received.
“On behalf of all of us at Southwest Medical Center, we want to thank the community for supporting its hospital,” Lambert said shortly after the results were announced Tuesday evening. “We’re extremely pleased that they saw the needs just as we have. We look forward to a strong future for health care in Seward County.”
Lambert said design plans for the project have been ongoing for a month or so, and that is expected to continue.
“It’ll just get deeper and deeper into the design phase,” he said. “We expect that groundbreaking will occur in the fall. Completion will be sometime in the spring of 2012.”
Lambert said he was anxious as he awaited the results of Tuesday’s vote.
“I didn’t sleep real well (Monday) night,” he said. “Maybe I was just excited because I felt confident it was going to happen. I think the community’s got a lot of smart people. I’m glad they saw the needs just as we have.”
Leading up to the election, officials from SWMC made efforts to educate the public about the bond proposal, and Lambert said many people appreciated the information posted in various media outlets.
“There was some misunderstanding,” he said. “They appreciated just getting the information and clarification. We had a citizens for hospital improvement group. They did a lot of work in getting that information out. They need to be commended too. They’re not hospital employees. They just saw their community trying to get better. I appreciate all their hard work too.”
Lambert said the overwhelming vote in favor of the bond proposal showed the need for something to be done with the local health care system.
“It’s all going to be good for Liberal and Seward County,” he said.
Results of the election will be finalized during an election canvass at 9 a.m. Friday in the Seward County Administration Building.