Two additions and complete interior modifications to the Garfield Memorial Hospital are moving from the drawing boards toward construction.

Members of the Garfield County Municipal Building Authority have announced they are calling for bids from contractors.The deadline will be Thursday, Jan. 27, at 2 p.m., with bids to be submitted to the hospital. Bidding documents are available from Lynn Edward Elliott at 747 S. Paradise Canyon Road in Cedar City.

Officials said the documents will be issued to general contractors. Additional information may be obtained by calling 801-586-1512.

It was also announced that the hospital has installed new blood-testing equipment at a cost of about $80,000. The Kodak Ectachem 250 analyzer is designed for small hospitals, providing maximum power in minimum space to optimize lab operations, according to Ron Hatch, laboratory manager.

The new hospital addition will house a 32-bed long-term care facility and will include 9,500 square feet as well as site work, site utilities and paving. The project will also involve new kitchen, refrigeration and medical equipment, along with furnishings.

The hospital will be completely remodeled to bring everything up the health code, a spokesman said.

The project will be partly financed through a $150,000 Rural Health Transitions Grant from the federal Health Care Financing Administration. Some $50,000 is being received initially, with similar amounts to be forthcoming for the next two years.

The additions and remodeling will cost about $650,000, reported Dennis Moser, project coordinator.

A $200,000 grant from the Utah Community Impact Board, $50,000 from Panguitch City and a pledge by the Garfield Memorial Health Care Foundation to raise $100,000 will round out the financing package. Fund-raising events are being conducted throughout Garfield County to fill the foundation's pledge.

Hospital officials anticipate construction can begin in the spring.

The Five County Association of Governments is involved in analysis and clearances for historical, archaeological and wildlife interests in connection with federal funding. An attorney was hired to ensure compliance with federal requirements, Moser said.

Meanwhile, Hatch said, the new blood-analyzing equipment will revolutionize the hospital's lab operation by allowing testing to be completed more quickly while reducing costs.

"More than 40 different tests can be conducted, and the equipment is capable of concluding as many as 250 tests per hour."

Hatch said the samples can be loaded, patient information fed into the high-tech equipment, along with the desired tests requested, and test results quickly produced. The unit also offers less risk of contamination, errors and hazard exposure.