Archived Story

EL gets hospital funding

Published 9:49am Tuesday, October 2, 2012 Updated 11:51am Tuesday, October 2, 2012

For The Journal

Congressman Collin Peterson announced that Prairie Ridge Hospital and Health Services has been selected to receive more than $24 million from USDA Rural Development to build a new critical access hospital in Elbow Lake and purchase a clinic in Morris.

“Critical access hospitals play a vital role by ensuring that all Minnesotans, especially those in rural areas, have access to high quality care,” Peterson said. “This project will also provide an economic boost to the local communities.”

The current Prairie Ridge hospital and clinic facility was built in the early 1960s and no longer fully meets the community’s healthcare needs. The new facility (built on 25 acres) will be approximately 53,000 square feet and will include 10 private rooms, an emergency department, operating room, imaging lab, pharmacy and clinic.

The facility will be fully handicap accessible and designed to improve the safety of patients and increase staff efficiency.

“This is great news,” said Gene Wenstrom, chair of the Prairie Ridge Hospital Board. “I think I can understand how the people of this area felt in 1960 when they raised the money to build the present hospital. Then, like now, there were many people working together to reach the goal of a new hospital building. I would like to thank the Board members of Prairie Ridge, the hospital staff, especially our CEO Tom Kooiman, for their hard work.”

“A special thank you should go to our three long time medical providers, Dr. Rapp, Marlene Wood, CFNP and Heather Reeve, PA-C,” Wenstrom added. “They all have worked very hard to bring quality health care to our patients.”

Construction of the new hospital will start this month. The hospital is planning to move into the new building by January 2014, weather permitting.

The funding comes in the form of an approximately $20 million direct loan and a $4 million loan guarantee through Rural Development’s community facilities program.

“Since 2009, Rural Development has invested $75 million to build or improve critical access hospitals in Minnesota,” said Colleen Landkamer, USDA’s rural development state director. “Quality healthcare is essential to preserving the unique quality of life found in rural Minnesota. Hospitals are also a major job provider and economic development engine for our small towns.”

The public is invited to an Oct. 12 groundbreaking ceremony southeast of the city garage on the south side of Highway 79 East. Soup and sandwiches will be served from 11:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m., when ground will be broken. Seating will be available.

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