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Bids awarded for $2.1 million renovation of Rice Hospital medical imaging department

WILLMAR - Bids were awarded this past week for a $2.1 million renovation of the imaging department at Rice Memorial Hospital.

The project, which will enlarge and enhance the space, has been under consideration "for multiple years," said Mike Schramm, chief executive of Rice Hospital.

Construction is scheduled to start in June.

It has been at least 15 years since the space housing the hospital's medical imaging services underwent a redesign. The department was one of only a few left mostly untouched by a $50 million-plus hospitalwide expansion and renovation completed in 2006, and there are needs that must be addressed, Schramm said. "An architect has been working with us on this for quite some time."

Three other smaller departments are included in the project as well: the wound ostomy clinic, pulmonary rehabilitation and the Rice Health Foundation office.

Financing will mostly be borne by Willmar Medical Services, the joint venture between Rice Hospital and Affiliated Community Medical Centers. The entity owns and operates the medical imaging services at both the hospital and at ACMC, along with other services that include the Willmar Surgery Center, the Willmar Regional Cancer Center and the Willmar Diabetes Center.

Rice Hospital's share of the project amounts to about one-fourth of the overall cost, or $548,000, said Bill Fenske, chief financial officer for Rice. Willmar Medical Services is funding the remaining $1.6 million.

The cost initially was estimated at $2.58 million but bids turned out to be $400,000 lower than thought, Schramm said. "The bids came in favorably."

As work begins on the renovation, Rice also is launching a master facilities planning process that will take a comprehensive look at all the hospital's space needs, current and future.

The effort was prompted by the imaging project, which will require some reconfiguration and relocation of surrounding departments. As hospital leaders contemplated how to reassign the space, it became clear that a larger space study was needed.

A consultant was hired last month to work with Rice on the study, which is expected to be completed within a year.

"We need to take a comprehensive look across the facility," Schramm said. "We're going to look at a lot of trends and utilizing of space."

The last time Rice put together a master facility plan was in the late 1990s. It resulted in the current hospital building, a blend of new construction and significantly remodeled space.

Anne Polta

Anne Polta covers health care, business/economic development and general assignment. Her HealthBeat blog can be found at Follow her on Twitter at @AnnePolta.

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