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Glenwood makes $10M health care investment

Nurses Twyla Vandernburgh and Jeanie Person are part of the team working at the new nurse's station in the Glacial Ridge Health System hospital. It is located in the northwest corner of the facility where the main entrance had been. The hospital recently undertook a $10.8 million renovation the CEo says was an integral part to expanding its services and attracting three new physicians to the staff. Tribune photo by Tom Cherveny

GLENWOOD -- Pope County residents are about to get their first look at $10.8 million in improvements to the Glacial Ridge Health System hospital and clinic in Glenwood, but it's already made a lasting impression on some new residents.

The improvements played an important role in helping recruit three new physicians to the staff, including a family practice physician and two with surgical responsibilities, according to Kirk Stensrud, CEO of GRHS.

The investment to improve health care services, and the public support demonstrated by an $800,000 capital campaign, all made the right kind of impressions on the health care providers, according to Stensrud.

"It really helps,'' he said.

The public gets its opportunity to take a look at the facilities at an open house from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday.

The project was launched in August 2007 and completed in mid-February, about $100,000 under budget.

Stensrud said the improvements will benefit those receiving health care at the facilities in many ways, starting with improved access. The main entrance for the hospital and clinic has been moved to the southeast corner of the campus where more parking has been made available.

The entrance has also been designed to improve both patient privacy and foot traffic within the building: Clinic and hospital users will go their separate ways once inside.

Those entering the hospital for emergency care will benefit from the changes they will find as well, he said. The hospital's emergency area has been expanded in size and now includes separate and private exam rooms, as well as two separate trauma care rooms. One is designed and equipped for emergency cardiac care. The other has a negative air pressure system to prevent the airborne transmission of infectious agents.

An enclosed ambulance bay with space to handle two vehicles is attached to the ER center, ending the days when emergency patients had to be hustled inside from an outside parking area.

The days of elbow jostling for room in the hospital's operating room are over, too. The new operating suite includes two spacious operating rooms and six separate, private areas for the immediate care before and after a surgery.

The project has also added exam and procedure rooms and a nurse's station in the clinic, and included remodeling work in other areas of the complex.

Stensrud said the project was undertaken with the primary goal of improving the delivery of health care services. The improvements make it possible for more patients to receive care in Glenwood, and not have to seek services elsewhere, according Stensrud.

He said patients have already responded favorably to the improvements, and so has staff. He said a deliberate effort to solicit the input of staff throughout the planning of the project has paid big benefits. He has yet to hear anybody utter ''if only we had ...''