FARGO — Prairie St. John’s will begin work on a new $47 million hospital this fall with the start of demolition of a nearby building, signaling the end of a hospital that has been in service for more than a century.
The new psychiatric hospital will have 128 beds, up from the current 110, with space for residential and partial hospitalization care.
Demolition of the nearby building is expected to begin in October, with construction of the new hospital planned to start next spring. The new hospital, which will be located near the existing Prairie St. John’s near Island Park, is expected to open in mid-2021.
The new building will be 106,000 square feet, smaller than the current 150,000 square feet, will offer improvements for patients and staff and will be more efficient to operate, said Jeff Herman, Prairie St. John's CEO.
"It's the right thing to do and the right time to do it," he said. Building the new hospital will reduce utility costs by an estimated $150,000 to $200,000 per year.
To make room for the new hospital, Prairie St. John’s will tear down its vacant RiversEdge facility to the east, located at 355 3rd Ave. S. Patient care will not be disrupted during the construction, hospital administrators said. Once the new hospital opens, the current building will be torn down and replaced by added parking space.
Executives considered building the new Prairie St. John's in south Fargo, but high land acquisition costs and the tradition of its location near Island Park convinced them to remain downtown.
"Prairie St. John's really is associated with this space," Herman said. "This is our history, this is our future."
The new hospital is being designed to blend in with the historic Hawthorne Elementary School neighborhood, with a lot of brickwork. Height restrictions will limit the new building to four stories, so any future expansion likely would be from adding a pod to the north, Herman said.
"We don't want to put up a steel and glass building," he said.
The new hospital will provide specialized programming, including an electroconvulsive therapy suite and physician-led, medication-assisted treatment.
“Prairie St. John’s has cared for our community for over 100 years,” Herman said. “The new hospital will maximize our treatment and patient care space and will include a dramatic increase in natural light and behavioral healthcare-specific design to enhance our clinical treatment models.”
Also, the new hospital will provide “enhanced and expanded” intensive day programs and outpatient care. It will enable increased collaboration of multidisciplinary teams, Herman said, including psychiatrists, internal medicine physicians, clinical pharmacists, social workers, psychologists and therapists.
“It’s truly the hospital of the future to best serve patients,” he said.
Prairie St. John's is staffed by about 400 employees and serves about 6,700 patients per year.
Mayor Tim Mahoney called Prairie St. John’s a “vital component of the Fargo metro’s healthcare system” in a congratulatory statement accompanying the announcement of the new hospital.
“As the largest facility of its kind in this region, Prairie St. John’s excels in providing a full range of mental healthcare services to every sector of our community,” Mahoney said.
Prairie St. John’s, 510 4th St. S., was founded in 1997 and provides behavioral health services for children, adolescents and adults. The hospital became a subsidiary of Universal Health Services, based in Pennsylvania, in 2010.
The original Prairie St. John's building was built in 1904 as St. John’s Hospital by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, Minneapolis. It occupies the site of what once was the residence of the late Bishop John Shanley, replacing an earlier St. John’s Hospital built in 1900.
The hospital had 87 beds when built in 1904. A training school for nurses, and a nurses’ residence, opened across the street two years later. Major additions to the hospital were added in the 1960s, and the building has undergone many interior renovations over the decades.