AITKIN -- A parking space at the Riverwood HealthCare Center in Aitkin is hard to come by at times since there are only 18 parking spaces for visitors to the hospital and adjacent nursing home.
But by the end of the year, the hospital and clinic will have been relocated into an $18 million health-care facility on a 40-acre campus that not only has additional space inside the hospital and ample room for expansion, but 300 parking spaces as well.
The target move-in date at the 76,000-square-foot facility is Dec. 26, said Judie Braith, Riverwood public relations and marketing manager.
It's been a five-year process of acquiring funds and planning and building the facility, she said. The hospital needed to raise $2 million -- the rest was funded by bonds received through the city of Aitkin. The fund-raising campaign started in 1999, and so far $30,000 is still needed to reach that $2 million mark.
More than $400,000 was raised through donations made through payroll deductions by Riverwood staff, physicians, board members and hospital auxiliary members.
Construction continues at the new Riverwood HealthCare Center, located about a half mile east of the current building off of County Road 47 in Aitkin. The $18 million building project is expected to be completed by Dec. 26, the target move-in date. (Dispatch Photos by Jodie Tweed)
Riverwood employees were one of the facility's largest groups of contributors.
In the current health-care center, supply cabinets are stored in the hallways at the hospital and it is difficult to get some equipment into the patient rooms.
"It's extremely small," said Braith.
The single-patient rooms at the new facility will be as large as the current hospital's double-patient rooms. Braith said patients will have more privacy, as well, at the new facility.
Right now Riverwood manages two separate clinics and a nursing home, in addition to the hospital. Ripple River Medical Center is separated from the Riverwood facility by Fourth Street in Aitkin. At the new campus, the clinics will be merged and will share a common entrance and integrated computer systems. The Ripple River Medical Center will be used as offices for Riverwood support staff.
Storage space is at a premium at Riverwood HealthCare Center in Aitkin, and many things are stored in the hallway. Staff members are anxious to move into the new facility at the end of the year.
Three new surgical suites will replace the two small surgical suites at the current Riverwood facility.
"Our surgical suites will solve another problem," said Michael Hagen, Riverwood's chief executive. "Our surgical room now isn't large enough for some orthopedic procedures. We have to refer those patients (to Cuyuna Regional Medical Center in Crosby.)"
The 48-bed extended care facility adjacent to Riverwood HealthCare Center will expand into the vacated hospital. Renovations include the addition of single and private rooms, and the activities area, sitting room and physical therapy areas will be expanded. An assisted living area or other senior services also are being considered, said Braith.
Riverwood HealthCare Center is Aitkin County's largest employer, employing 230 full-time equivalent employees.
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