Altru announces major expansion plans, purchase of Doctors Hospital
Altru Health System will complete a major expansion and renovation project in Grand Forks over the next decade that includes purchasing Doctors Hospital in the city's south end and building new facilities at its Columbia Road campus, officials an...
Altru Health System will complete a major expansion and renovation project in Grand Forks over the next decade that includes purchasing Doctors Hospital in the city's south end and building new facilities at its Columbia Road campus, officials announced Friday.
CEO Dave Molmen said the expansion is fueled by recent "unprecedented" growth for the company.
President Casey Ryan said Altru's relationship with the Mayo Clinic has improved the health care network's ability to recruit, and 41 positions will be added to the medical staff this year.
"Having done that, we created a very good problem," he said. "We didn't have enough space."
Molmen said the sellers requested Altru not disclose financial details, including the purchase price.
Phone calls and emails requesting comment from the sellers and Doctors Hospital officials were unreturned Friday.
The decision also came down to the necessity of upgrading Altru's current facilities, many of which are almost 40 years old and have outdated configurations, Chief Planning Executive Dennis Reisnour said.
He said the company began to develop a master facility plan in 2010 to determine current space limits and future needs at its Columbia Road campus.
Altru was approached in late 2010 about possibly buying facilities in the Aurora medical park along South Washington Street, including what's now Doctors Hospital. But Reisnour said the plan was not yet completed and, at the time, Altru did not know how it would use the buildings, so they declined to make an offer.
A facility plan was approved in March 2011 that identified major objectives, including accommodating Altru's growth, improving the experience for patients and reducing congestion at the Columbia Road campus.
But Reisnour said before any new facilities could go up on the site, years of major infrastructure work is needed to replace the outdated electrical systems and sewer lines that are now approaching the end of their lifespan.
"As we developed our plans, we realized that it would be 2016 before we would have any new patient care space on this campus and we needed a quicker solution than that," he said.
Altru went back to the Aurora group late last year, this time offering to purchase several buildings from the group on the city's south end to get more space.
The sale includes a clinic facility, a strip mall and the Doctors Hospital facility, which was set to open in March under the former owners but now will not open under that name.
But Aurora still owns several facilities on the campus. Molmen said Altru will continue to honor leases for physicians who are now located in the medical park, but they will not be employed by Altru.
Reisnour said Altru could relocate some of its private care services and possibly add an urgent care or walk-in clinic to the new facilities once they take possession on March 1.
Altru patients could start using the new south-end campus as soon as this spring or summer, Ryan said. But officials are still determining what services should be moved away from the Columbia Road facilities that will remain the organization's primary campus.
"We need to put more time into it and make decisions about what's best for patient flow," Ryan said.
Expansion plans call for replacing Altru Hospital in three phases expected to be completed in 2020. The main clinic facility would be replaced in 2022.
But Molmen said even with major construction on the campus, Altru will continue to serve patients at its existing facilities until the expansion is complete. The old hospital and clinic buildings will be torn down once the entire expansion project is completed, he said.
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