Altru is seeking COVID-19 relief dollars to help fund construction of its new hospital.
Representatives from the health system spoke about expanded plans for its new hospital and announced it has requested ARPA funding at the Grand Forks County Commission meeting Tuesday.
The seven-floor hospital has a budget of $380 million and will have 226 patient beds, a 16-bed observation unit and boiler plant updates as part of the new plans. The hospital’s construction is about 18% completed, with construction set to resume in October after Altru halted it last due, in part, to financial pressures from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Altru formally requested ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act of 2021) funds last month to help pay for the hospital’s construction. ARPA, the $1.9 trillion economic stimulus program signed into law by President Joe Biden in March, provides additional funds to state and local governments. It can be used to support public health expenses, infrastructure such as water, sewer and broadband facilities, replace lost public sector revenue and even replace pay for essential workers.
Meghan Compton, Altru’s executive vice president and chief clinic operations officer, spoke to the commission about how the plans were changed slightly during the pandemic.
“One of the benefits for us in pausing the project, while there was a lot of downsides to it, was the silver lining of getting to take an opportunity to ask, ‘What do we need to do for our healthcare system to take care of patients going forward knowing what we know about COVID-19?’” Compton said. “It gave us a chance to take a look at our bed count, our airflow and the flow of traffic, how we move people in and out of the organization depending on what’s going on and how the staff flow in and out of the system as well. There aren’t major changes to the system or to the building itself, but it did give us an opportunity to take a look at that.”
Jonathan Holth, community and client development manager at JLG Architects, gave an extensive floor-by-floor rundown of all seven levels of the hospital to the commissioners before rounding out his presentation by stating how proud he was of the plans.
“The new hospital will really solidify Altru’s brand and also elevate the brand to continue to be known as the premier healthcare provider in the county and the region,” he said.
Kristi Hall-Jiran, Altru’s chief philanthropy officer, emphasized what she believes will be the calming effects of soft colors and the proximity to trees and nature in the surrounding area.
“We really envisioned a very calming environment that really integrates those natural healing elements into our design,” Hall-Jiran said. “We envisioned a very soothing and very tranquil place for our patients to heal, for family members and friends to relax and recharge. We don’t want this to just be a place for people to go when they are sick.”