Altru Health System held a ceremonial groundbreaking for its $305 million hospital on Wednesday night.
Construction on the 528,000-square-foot, seven-story facility began at the end of April, but the groundbreaking gave Altru employees and members of the community a chance to celebrate the new hospital.
Wednesday was also the first time Grand Forks residents could see a rendering of the outside of the new hospital.
Kris Comptom, president of Altru’s board of directors, Brad Wehe, CEO of Altru, Mayor Michael Brown and Kristi Hall-Jiran, CPO of Altru, spoke at the ceremony.
Brown, a physician at Altru, lauded the new hospital as just one of “so many great projects” happening in Grand Forks.
“Altru has been a great community partner, and, especially as mayor, you appreciate all that they contribute to the community,” Brown said. “They also provide a quality place to work for me and many others, so it's a very special time for me to see this next phase for health care.”
Brown said Altru is important for health care in Grand Forks and also the communities surrounding Grand Forks.
“This continues the commitment that Altru has made to our community and our region,” Brown said.
The mayor also said that having Altru in Grand Forks brings quality people into the community.
“A lot of community leaders have come from Altru Health System,” Brown said.
Wehe underscored that a project like this wouldn’t be possible without the foundation laid by past leaders.
“I am excited and proud. Communities don’t often get this kind of opportunity and our community has had a few,” Wehe said of the new hospital. “This is going to be a regional health care destination, loaded with state-of-the-art technology, loaded with knowledge, loaded with great people and we’re proud of that.”
Wehe thanked Altru staff and the community for being devoted partners in this project.
“Altru has invested in the community for 50-something years, and it started with physicians buying the land and donating it to the community for a health care system,” Brown said. “I think that just speaks volumes to the altruistic nature of our health care providers. They want what's best for the community.”
The groundbreaking ceremony was followed by a celebration in Sertoma Park until about 7:45 p.m. Free food truck food and ice cream were served. There were also a firetruck, police car and ambulance for kids to see, face painting, balloon animals and a photo booth at the celebration. A Native American drum line came from Devils Lake to perform.
Community members and Altru employees and their families were invited to the celebration at Sertoma Park.
“It’s a very special thing, having a hospital built in your community, and we hope everyone will celebrate with us,” said Altru spokeswoman Sally Grosgebauer.
This new hospital comes after Altru lost its main clinic because of a structural failure in 2017. Altru leaders initially planned to rebuild that clinic, but decided on a new hospital, instead.
The new hospital, being constructed by Grand Forks-based PCL Community, will be completed at the beginning of 2022, but won’t be fully functional until later that year.