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Altru to build its new $250 million hospital at current Grand Forks location

Altru CEO David Molmen and officials from Altru Health System discuss plans to build a new $250 million hospital during a press conference by Eric Hylden/ Forum News Service

GRAND FORKS—Altru Health Systems plans to build its proposed hospital at its current campus in Grand Forks, and the old building likely will be razed, hospital executives said Tuesday.

Officials announced Tuesday the health provider would build the more-than $250 million complex north of its 41-year-old facility at 1200 S. Columbia Road. Groundbreaking is set for next year with a completion date slated for 2022.

"Ultimately, it came down to we're just lucky to have the great site that we have, we have plenty of land and a great location," Altru Chief Strategy Officer Dennis Reisnour said, adding there is an opportunity to build on the current campus.

Altru leadership announced in early November intentions to replace its existing facility. The health system held off on making the location of the new hospital public until it gathered input from stakeholders, patients and staff.

"I think the broad consensus was we were pretty excited to stay on this campus and to have that proximity to other services," Altru Chief Operating Officer Brad Wehe said.

The hospital considered several options, including the location of the now-closed Ray Richards Golf Course and west of Altru's south Grand Forks campus, Reisnour said. Altru leadership settled on its current locations after determining the Columbia Road campus best fit the health system's list of criteria, including access from major roadways, proximity to other services and offices, land availability and disruption of ongoing operations during construction, according to a news release.

"(Alternative) sites posed traffic complications, limited or complicated access for regional patients, lacked convenience to current Altru services and needed costly site preparation to restructure the land," the release said.

Leadership made the decision to stay at the current campus before discussing finances with landowners of alternative locations, Reisnour said.

Strategic plans for building a hospital date back to 2010, though expansion of the health system to a south Grand Forks campus helped delay construction, according to Reisnour. A structural failure at the now-razed Main Clinic in late December 2016 prompted Altru leadership to revisit and eventually greenlight a hospital project.

Altru plans to complete the new hospital in full and make sure it is operational before it moves staff into any part of the facility, Wehe said. More details on the size of the facility could be released in April, he added.

"We would have a range," Reisnour said of the size of the complex.

The health system has looked at various uses for the old hospital building, Reisnour added.

"Ultimately, the building will be demolished, but what that timeline will be, we don't know," he said.

The health system plans to hold more workshops throughout the planning and construction process, according to the release.

April Baumgarten

April Baumgarten joined the Grand Forks Herald May 19, 2015, and covers crime and education. She grew up on a ranch 10 miles southeast of Belfield, where her family raises registered Hereford cattle. She double majored in communications and history/political science at Jamestown (N.D.) College, now known as University of Jamestown. During her time at the college, she worked as a reporter and editor-in-chief for the university's newspaper, The Collegian. Baumgarten previously worked for The Dickinson Press as a city government and energy reporter in 2011 before becoming the editor of the Hazen Star and Center Republican. She then returned to The Press as a news editor, where she helped lead an award-winning newsroom in recording the historical oil boom.

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