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Purchase agreement completed for new hospital land

By Sue Sitter - | Aug 21, 2021

Sue Sitter/PCT The Good Samaritan Hospital Association has agreed to purchase land adjacent to Rugby’s walking path next to U.S. Highway 2 for a new hospital. The land, owned by Bud and Bette Chalmers, lies across the highway from Gooseneck Implement and Farm Credit Services.

Plans for a new site for Heart of America Medical Center are “moving along very well,” according to CEO Erik Christenson.

“We just completed a purchase agreement for the property across from Farm Credit Services and Gooseneck along the north side of Highway 2,” Christenson said. “The purchase agreement is contingent upon whether we obtain financing from the USDA and it passes all the environmental surveys the USDA requires. So, they will be doing the analysis of the property to see if it qualifies and of course, the purchase of the property is contingent on those analyses.”

Should the USDA approve the analysis, the property would be purchased by the hospital from Rugby landowners Bud and Bette Chalmers.

“We’ve selected an architect firm,” Christenson added. “The board has selected JLG to design the hospital and we’re currently in the process of selecting a construction management firm. They’ll be working closely with the architect and the USDA. We’re meeting bilanthis process.”

Christenson said the architectural firm, located in Fargo, is “the same company that designed the First International Bank and Trust building.”

The new building’s design will stay true to the medical center’s mission statement: “To deliver compassionate care by advancing the physical and spiritual wellbeing of the communities we serve through smart medicine and exceptional service.”

One way the hospital will participate in advancing their community’s physical and spiritual wellbeing will include possibly rerouting the Rugby Walking Path through the hospital grounds.

“There’s a concept through the architect that we’re looking at that would re-route the walking path through the hospital property, where the hospital would purchase and design a healing garden on the outside of the hospital and route the walking path through there,” Christenson said. “At that point, the walking path would be part of hospital property and be our responsibility but we can work in concert with the park board on that concept.”

Christenson added, “It’s not set in stone, obviously; it’s preliminary. But there are designs where we’d reroute the walking path because we don’t want people walking through the direct entrance, which would be possible due to traffic and volume. So, one plan is routing that path through the hospital property and through the healing garden and then back out by the residential area by the property.”

“Part of being a provider of choice is also making sure you’re providing preventative, smart medicine and making people healthier in everything we do, so the walking path would certainly help meet that mission of making a healthier community,” Christenson added.

However, Christenson said future plans depend on the hospital’s first step, financing the project.

The majority of funds for the new hospital will come from a USDA Rural Development program loan.

“USDA funding takes time,” Christenson said. “The application process we’re in, they do significant analysis of your historical financials and an assessment of what you’ll be able to pay off or afford in the future. There are multiple analyses that go into this, so we’re looking at probably submitting the application sometime in November if all goes well. If that’s the case, then approval for financing probably wouldn’t come until early spring 2022, at which point, maybe we could have a groundbreaking in the spring of 2022, so that’s the hope.”

Christenson added, “Definitely there’s lots to do between here and (spring 2022). It’s not unusual for (the USDA) to make you resubmit an application because of something they see that they don’t like. So, the process could be repeated and delayed and as you see with hospital builds around the state, it’s not unusual to see delays.”

“There’s also a fear of the Delta Variant COVID and if we ever repeat an outbreak of COVID, that will create delays,” Christenson noted. “So, I guess, we’re being cautious in our approach and sharing people’s understanding that these things take time.”

The steering committee for the new hospital, composed of members of the Good Samaritan Hospital Association Board of Directors and community members, meets every other Wednesday in the Fox Auditorium of Heart of America Medical Center. The meetings are open to the public. The committee next meets Aug. 25 at 7 p.m.

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