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Renville County Board approves next phase of hospital project

OLIVIA — Renville County is committed to building a new health care campus to replace the existing RC Hospital and Clinics facility in Olivia.

The Renville County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved a resolution on Tuesday to move the county-owned hospital forward on its proposed $24 million project.

The RC Hospital and Clinics is seeking financing through the United States Department of Agriculture, Rural Development. Taxpayers will not be obligated to support the project if USDA funding is obtained.

The unanimous vote Tuesday was welcome news for the RC Hospital and Clinic’s newly-appointed CEO Nathan Blad. After the vote, Blad said the decision will benefit the citizens of the county by assuring quality health care delivery well into the future. A new facility should also improve the ability to recruit and retain providers, he noted.

The hospital will have its application for financing ready by mid-July, and is optimistic it will be approved, according to the administrator. If all goes as planned, construction would likely start in 2014 with a possible opening in late 2015 or early 2016.

The hospital board is currently looking at four potential sites in Olivia for a new facility, and intends to make a choice soon.

Plans call for a 62,000-square-foot facility with a central registration point. It would hold 16 in-patient beds, while expanding the array of services offered.

The currently facility is a complex of buildings that is landlocked, providing new room for expansion. The first was erected in 1951.

Prior to their vote on Tuesday, the commissioners pointed out that the recent outreach campaign by the RC Hospital and Clinic had gone a long ways towards building public understanding and support for a new facility.

Support is not universal. Randy Kramer, who represents the easternmost townships in the county, said that there remain many in his district with concerns.

Kramer pointed to the importance of protecting the 140-plus jobs and $7 million annual payroll the RC Hospital and Clinics represents, and noted that taxpayers will not be called on to support the venture.

The commissioners said they also believed that a new facility was needed to assure the long-term viability of the county’s health care system. “I really do believe that if we do nothing we will not have a hospital in 25 years, maybe even sooner than that,’’ said commissioner Paul Setzepfandt, Bird Island.

Tom Cherveny

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

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