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New $1.4 billion Fort Bliss Army hospital opening delayed again by more problems

Maj. Jeff Ashburn looks out at the new William Beaumont Army Medical Center in far east El Paso from a second story balcony.

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By VIC KOLENC | El Paso Times | Published: March 6, 2021

FORT BLISS, Texas (Tribune News Service) — The long-delayed opening of the new, $1.4 billion William Beaumont Army Medical Center complex at Fort Bliss is being delayed again due to unspecified problems, hospital officials announced Friday evening.

The latest opening date for the huge medical complex in far East El Paso was March 28. No new opening date has been set.

This is the fourth opening date to be canceled for the complex, which took more than six years of troubled construction to get built. The $1.4 billion construction cost is more than $629 million over the original contract awards.

"We have run into a few challenges in the final phase of our transition to the new hospital, and will continue to work with all our partners in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Health Facilities Planning Agency, and the Defense Health Agency to ensure they're properly addressed," Army Col. Michael Oshiki, Beaumont commander, said in a statement.

More: Fort Bliss hospital cost rises to $1.4B as years of troubled construction near end

A "Day in the Life" exercise at the new hospital Feb. 18 found issues that need to be corrected before patients can be moved to the hospital, according to the Beaumont announcement.

Mock patient-care scenarios were done during the Feb. 18 exercise "to validate processes and equipment before moving into the new facility," according to the announcement.

The original opening date was to be April 2017. But years of construction delays and cost overruns pushed the opening to September 2020. Then, a bid protest over a contract for a medication and supply management system was blamed by officials for moving the opening to March 28. The bid protest was dismissed by a federal agency on Oct. 22, and the system was expected to be installed by Feb. 18.

Construction of the complex was essentially completed in late February 2020, when Army officials publicly unveiled it at a press conference. However, several months were needed to equip and furnish the hospital complex and train the thousands of people who will work there, officials said then.

The entire site covers 270 acres at Spur 601 and Loop 375 in East El Paso. It's one of the largest U.S. military medical complexes in the world, Army officials have said.

The new complex is to replace the almost 50-year-old Beaumont hospital located on Fort Bliss land at 5005 N. Piedras St., in North Central El Paso.

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