Olivia Hospital & Clinic looking into partnerships, funding from Minnesota for wellness center proposal
The Olivia Hospital & Clinic may request $12 million in state bonds while also looking for new partners for proposal to develop a wellness center on its Olivia campus.
OLIVIA — The Olivia Hospital & Clinic is looking for state bond funds and new partners to revive plans for developing a wellness center for the county.
Hospital President Nathan Pulscher and Jackie Edwards, director of the hospital’s foundation, asked the Renville County Board of Commissioners on April 4 to approve a proposal that would make the county the owner of a wellness center. The hope is for the center to be leased to the Kandiyohi County Area Family YMCA, which would operate it, and that other partners would help fund the project.
If the county supports the proposal, the hospital would be able to introduce a bill this legislative session seeking bond funds. That would allow the hospital to host Capital Investment Committee members from the Legislature and pitch the project this summer, in hopes of seeing the bill approved in the 2024 legislative session.
The hospital is proposing to request $12 million in state bond funds. It would require a 50% match by partners in the center.
The commissioners will consider action on the request at their upcoming meeting.
During discussions on April 4, there was some support expressed. Commissioner Randy Kramer, who said he was lukewarm to the original wellness center proposal, said he’s warming to the idea after hearing from constituents in the county about quality-of-life issues.
“I’m to the point where I think we have to do something. I know we have to do something,” Kramer said.
Commissioner Doug Erickson said he had concerns about the original proposal when the wellness center was to be part of a K-12 BOLD School District campus.
“This puts a different light on it for me,” Erickson said.
Edwards said the wellness center was proposed after an extensive outreach effort by the hospital to assess what the greater Renville County community needed. A hospital representative held one-on-one meetings and hosted group sessions with residents. “We heard the same thing over and over again,” Edwards told commissioners.
Many voiced their desire for an indoor walking track, which is not available in the entire county, she noted.
When the Renville County-owned hospital system joined with HealthPartners, it set aside funds for community wellness. There is nearly $6 million committed. The hospital earmarked approximately $3.75 million of the total for a bricks and mortar project, with the remainder devoted to helping fund operations.
The hospital is interested in leasing space in a wellness center to re-locate and expand its therapy services there, according to Pulscher. Due to requirements for funding reimbursements, the hospital must have the therapy services located within 250 yards of the hospital facility.
As a result, Edwards and Pulscher said they are proposing that the wellness center be developed on hospital property to the west of the current facility. Developing it on the east side of the hospital would be more costly, as road and other infrastructure would need to be developed.
Edwards said the hospital has contacted an architect about updating the 2019 wellness center plans, which were originally designed with the idea of being attached to a K-12 school on the hospital campus. Voters at that time rejected the BOLD school building plans and that put the wellness center proposal on hold.
The hospital has had discussions with the YMCA in Willmar on the possibility of the organization operating the center as its leaseholder. The BOLD School District was to be the original leaseholder and partner in the center.
The hospital has also been in contact with communities in the county to assess their interest as partners in a wellness center. State Rep. Dean Urdahl, R-Acton Township, is a member of the Capital Investment Committee in the House and has met with the hospital representatives about a possible bonding bill, said Edwards.