UHD breaks ground on $4 million expansion

ABOVE: Dirt is thrown for a photo op Thursday morning outside of Dulcimer Medical Center in Fairmont to celebrate breaking ground on United Hospital District's expansion of the Fairmont clinic. Renderings and floor plans of the expansion can be seen on the right. Pictured from left: Timothy Soelter, PA-C; Chad Helmstetter, PA-C; Timothy Bachenberg, MD; Aaron Johnson, MD; UHD Chief of Medical Staff; Christopher Gran, MD; Sue Hassing, RN, UHD Clinic Manager; Kaylynn Steinkamp, PA-C; Taylor Landkammer, FNP; Kandi Menne, President, Fairmont Chamber ;Rick Ash, UHD CEO; Bruce Larson, BWBR Architects; Melissa Storbeck, RN, UHD Chief Nursing Officer; Ted Armon, UHD Facility Maintenance Manager; Eric Baarts, RW Carlstrom Co(General Contractor); Brian Ruschy, Construction Consultant.

FAIRMONT– On Thursday a ground breaking ceremony was held to celebrate the expansion of United Hospital District’s (UHD) Fairmont clinic, located at 1950 Center Creek Drive. The $4 million project is expected to be completed in the late spring of 2024.

In late December of 2021, UHD entered into a purchase agreement with Dulcimer Medical Center in Fairmont, which transferred ownership of Dulcimer’s land and buildings to UHD. Dulcimer has been located at 1950 Center Creek Drive since 2009 and includes Dr. Steven Parnell’s practice as well as Dr. Jon Erickson’s practice, Fairmont Family Dentistry.

UHD’s CEO, Rick Ash, shared that UHD has had a presence in Fairmont, at 221 E. 1st Street, since 2016, but purchased the Dulcimer site because with Parnell’s expected retirement, and UHD’s need for more space, it was a way to ensure that care for patients would remain in Fairmont.

Ash said UHD is fortunate to have been able to add more providers but that that also requires extra space.

“It became clear that in order to provide some of the level of service that we can provide, that Dr. Parnell wan’t– whether it be procedures or various services– we needed to do some work internally and add some more exam rooms,” Ash said.

He said they didn’t want to wait until March, when they’ll take possession of the site, to start considering how to make it work.

“We decided to do the addition because there’s an opportunity to add more exam rooms and procedure rooms with greater technology and more air flow and other resources that our surgeons and providers will need to do office-based type procedures,” Ash said.

Ultimately, he said the process has been about identifying what the need is and then going after it.

In the expansion, 12 additional exam rooms will be added for a total of 32 exam rooms. Two new procedure rooms will also be added. So as not to disturb Parnell’s practice, a second building will be constructed and later the two will be joined together, which Ash said will work well because the corridors will match right up.

“We’ll be adding more services as we go into the future. It may not be day one, but we need the building… so that when the providers are ready, we’ll be ready for them,” Ash said.

For example, he said they’d like general surgeon Dr. Alex Wong to be able to provide various office-based procedures.

“We don’t have anything concrete at this point, but I think there’s probably three or four services that we think we can add to the community in this building,” Ash said.

These include the potential for more orthopedics, ENT (ears, nose, throat) and pain management.

Ash also anticipates that further down the line, after the expansion, the addition of services will allow for additional employment opportunities.

“I can’t give a number, but I suspect that every year that goes by, if we continue to be successful like we have been, it will continue to grow like it has already,” Ash said.

Fairmont Family Dentistry will remain in its same location for the foreseeable future.

“That was the other reason for the addition, not to lose the dental aspect of it; it’s an

important aspect of healthcare as well,” Ash said.

He pointed out that at this point in time, it’s hard to determine how construction will go considering there are still some supply chain issues. However, he said their goal is to start moving into the existing clinic on March 1 and that by the end of May the building should be completely finished.

“Our plan is to continue to provide care in the existing clinic and work around the construction as they connect the two buildings,” Ash said.

The architect on the project is BWBR, which is based out of St. Paul, and the construction company is RW Carlstrom, which is based out of Mankato. The plan is to use other local contractors if possible. The base construction cost is about $4 million though Ash pointed out that there will be additional costs in regards to equipment.

As for UHD’s current Fairmont location, Ash said they’re still unsure what will become of it but that there are some options they’re looking into.

“At the end of the day, we’re doing what we can to help keep rural healthcare strong and viable and meet the needs and this is part of it. Our goal is to keep care close to home,” Ash said.


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