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Health care: GRHS building for the future

By Deb Mercier
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The landscape of Glenwood’s Franklin Street South will look very different by late 2017.

The fencing and bulldozers, dirt and pipes will be replaced by Glacial Ridge Health System’s new hospital wing that will extend south of the current GRHS campus along Franklin Street South.

The clinic will also benefit from the expansion, gaining eight new exam rooms and another procedure room. Completion is set for late fall or winter of 2017.

The plan to upgrade current hospital rooms has been in the works for five years, said GRHS CEO Kirk Stensrud. The main goals were to improve room size, upgrade heating and cooling efficiency, and expand the bathrooms to include larger showers.

By starting from scratch, rooms were intentionally designed with a patient area, caregiver area and family area in each room. There will be a total of 22 rooms, expanding on the current 19 rooms available—a change welcomed by staff. Lynn Flesner, director of nursing said, “We need every bed we can get our hands on.”

Stenrud said GRHS explored other options first, such as renovating current hospital rooms and building upward from the existing hospital wing. That would have meant vacating the current hospital while it was under construction.

“You can’t just shut down [the hospital],” said Stensrud. “We weren’t coming up with solutions that would work for the long term.”

A staff-driven expansion

GRHS employees had a distinct voice in how this expansion would look. The nursing staff was very involved in the design; nine people representing the nursing department met with the architect. “They met with the architect many times, and we looked at a lot of different options,” said Stensrud.

With that staff input, the expansion is designed for them as well as for patients. The layout is staff-friendly, with a double corridor design interspersed with docks, or cut-throughs, so staff can easily navigate between the two corridors. The maternity area will be located right next to the nurses’ station, with a private corridor, spacious and modern rooms, plus a built-in birthing tub.

Flesner said the expansion also frees up more space for GRHS’s outreach services, such as cardiac rehabilitation and neurology. “We’re always asking our specialists for more time,” said Flesner. Specialists will now have more space to share when working with patients at GRHS.

The pharmacy is also set for expansion, as well as the addition of designated sleep study rooms.

“We’re building for the future—10 to 20 years down the line,” said Stensrud.

Why expand?

The answer is simple: The demand is there. Stensrud said the number of local and regional patients using GRHS services has tripled in 10 years. He attributes that growth to staff.

“The staff has done a great job of exceeding expectations,” said Stensrud. Flesner added that they strive to provide compassionate care, extending care beyond the patient to the family.

“Our tagline is that we provide ‘heartfelt care,’ and the staff do a tremendous job of it,” said Stensrud. “As an organization, we’ve really worked on providing top-notch service to our patients.”

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