Altru Health System changes course, delays expansion plans by 2 yearsAltru Health System is pushing back the expansion of its main campus in Grand Forks by two years and selling land it bought for a south end clinic, according to President Casey Ryan on Wednesday. It’s a departure from plans the city’s dominant healthcare group reveal on Feb. 17 when it announced it would buy what would’ve been a new south end hospital.
By: Pamela Knudson, Grand Forks Herald
Altru Health System is pushing back the expansion of its main campus in Grand Forks by two years and selling land it bought for a south end clinic, according to President Casey Ryan on Wednesday.
It’s a departure from plans the city’s dominant healthcare group reveal on Feb. 17 when it announced it would buy what would’ve been a new south end hospital.
At the time, administrators thought construction to expand the main campus on Columbia Road would begin 2014 and end around 2022.
“We’re looking at 2016 to 2022 or ’24 as the timeframe for redeveloping Medical Park,” Ryan said in a presentation at a Grand Forks Republicans luncheon.
He also revealed plans for use of Doctors Hospital and other adjacent properties, which includes services for patients who aren’t seriously ill.
Fear of Sanford?
Altru apparently finalized the purchase the day the other hospital was supposed to open, forcing a would-be rival to close before it could open.
Ryan said the other hospital had not been doing well — a previous owner had tried and failed to open it as Aurora Hospital — and there were some fears that Sanford Health System, based in Sioux Falls, S.D., would buy it.
That was not a major concern for Altru, he said, but “it was out there.” He said it was a relief to doctors and the community when Altru bought it. “This way, the community would be in control of it and not an outside interest.”
For Altru the purchase was related to its recruitment of new doctors and lack of space at its main campus.
There were expansion plans in the works before the purchase. Altru administrators had earlier said it changed the sequence of how they would expand and caused them to freeze construction of a $15 million clinic across the street from Doctors Hospital.
According to Ryan on Wednesday, the purchase has also forced a two-year delay in expansion of the main campus and made the clinic space superfluous. The property on South Washington is now for sale.
Altru’s 12,000-square-foot sports medicine center inside the Choice Health and Fitness Center not far from there will still open.
Occupying Doctors Hospital is also taking extra time, Ryan said, because of the need to meet safety codes and secure accreditation. “It’s in so much flux,” he said. “We have a lot of hoops to go through and a lot of planning to do.”
Phased in service
What’s known so far is the 94,000-square-foot hospital building will be used for family medicine and procedures that require no more than a one- or two-day stay, such as knee-replacement surgery.
“The hearts and pneumonias will all go to the main hospital” at the main campus, Ryan said.
There will not be an emergency room, which had been part of Doctors Hospital’s plan, but a walk-in clinic will be available.
The 100,000-square-foot clinic that’s also part of the purchase, would be home to a six-bed sleep lab; a center for physical, occupational and speech therapy; a renal dialysis unit; same-day surgery; and a laboratory, according to Brad Wehe, Altru’s chief operating officer.
A nearby 40,000-square-foot strip mall will sell wheel chairs and other medical equipment and supplies.
A separate imaging center will house ultrasound, CT scan, x-ray and mammography services.
The clinic will be open mid-May and other services will be phased in through the end of the year, said Ryan and Wehe.
Reach Knudson at (701) 780-1107; (800) 477-6572, ext. 107; or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.