Weather Forecast


Renville Co., Minn., looking at the possibility of new hospital, clinic facility

OLIVIA — The RC Hospital board should have an estimate by the end of this month of what it would cost to build a new health care center.

While no decision has been made yet, the county-owned hospital is moving forward with a scoping process to develop plans for a new facility.

Glenn Haugo, hospital administrator, told the Renville County Board of Commissioners this week that the hospital board and Pope Architects of Minneapolis are developing plans for a facility in the range of 60,000 to possibly 62,000 square feet.

The hospital and medical clinic in Olivia currently comprise 55,000 square feet.

An analysis of the hospital’s financial position indicated that it could manage the debt service costs for a project in the range of $20 million to possibly $25 million.

The analysis by the firm of Eide Bailly looked at a variety of cost and revenue scenarios. It focused on keeping the net patient revenue dedicated to debt retirement under 10 percent, according to information provided Tuesday at the meeting of the County Board.

A building project is being considered to improve efficiencies and modernize. “Mostly its work flow kinds of things,’’ said Haugo in reference to the focus of the facility planning.

The early plans call for a facility with a single, common entry point for both hospital and medical clinic care. Patients visiting the clinic would find laboratory and radiology services located right across the hall, saving them the need to navigate the “maze’’ of the current configuration, according to the discussions on Tuesday.

The emergency room would be located closer to where doctors and nurses work during the day.

Haugo said a new hospital would likely have fewer than the 25 patient beds in the current hospital. Only rarely has the patient census required 17 beds in recent years, he said.

The new facility is also likely to hold two surgical rooms, although one would continue to function primarily as a procedure room. Long-term, Haugo said the hospital is hopeful of offering more surgical services, such as joint replacements.

Plans for the medical clinic would reduce the number of exam rooms from the current 18 to 15. That maintains the availability of three rooms per primary provider.

Haugo said the analysis currently under way has also identified areas where the hospital is likely to reduce services. Providing meals for congregate housing and the meals on wheels program is not profitable. Elderly day stay and hospice services were also identified as areas for possible reductions.

The scoping process has also included a look at possible sites for a new medical campus. The architects have not yet made a recommendation, but Haugo said they noted that the landscape work completed by the city of Olivia in the area of the new retention pond offers apparent cost advantages.

The hospital administrator said the architects are expected to present cost estimates for a possible project at the hospital board’s Dec. 27 meeting. No timetable has been set on a decision on whether to pursue a project.

County Commissioner John Stahl, who is a member of the hospital board, said his view is that “we should keep it moving forward, but not rush into things.’’

Tom Cherveny

Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.

(320) 214-4335