Posted 6/16/15 (Tue)
By Nicky Ouellet
Stepping over small piles of sheetrock and ducking under exposed electrical wires has Randall Pederson beaming. The CEO of Tioga Medical Center presents the construction of the new clinic attachment with the pride of a new father.
“We’re a little bit behind the schedule, but all in all I think we’re pretty satisfied with where we’re at,” he says.
The clinic, an $8.5 million project that began in June 2014, should wrap up construction by August and be ready for use shortly after, Pederson says.
The expansion project faced early setbacks when construction crews encountered a diesel tank spill that had spread farther than expected. Cleanup costs threatened to cut funding to other aspects of the project, but local companies stepped in to help. Earlier, citizens of Tioga approved a half-cent sales tax to help cover costs of the project.
“We just really appreciate the support that the citizens of Tioga offered us with that sales tax and their continued support for our clinic and our hospital,” said Pederson, who considers the project a necessity for the community.
A rise in the number of emergency room visits caused by a sustained increase to the Tioga area population has put medical services and care in high demand. The current clinic, a freestanding building run and located on the same campus as the hospital, has been outgrown.
The new clinic will be attached to the hospital, allowing faster turnaround time for physicians treating patients in both facilities.
It will also increase the number of exam rooms and offices and add two procedure rooms. Patients can remain in the clinic for minor procedures like stitches and casting instead of being transferred to the hospital.
The number of emergency room visits has nearly quadrupled in recent years, and Pederson doesn’t see the high volume dropping any time soon.
“We’re anticipating growth in our community,” said Pederson. “It doesn’t seem like it with the downturn in oil, but some day it’s going to come back and we want to be ready for it.”
Walking through the structural skeleton of the new facility, Pederson points out where television monitors will hang in the airy reception room and the office where a diabetes specialist will counsel patients. He opens door after door of future exam rooms.
He steps into an area off the reception room slated to become the clinic’s outpatient physical therapy center. Sharing doors with both the clinic and the hospital will allow easy access to the center for both in- and out-patient treatment.
Other additions include a two-door ambulance bay, a new two-bed emergency room, a remodel of the nurse’s station, a dedicated helipad for air transfers and handicapped parking accessible to both the clinic and hospital entrances.
Paving will begin in the next few weeks, weather permitting.
The elevator, once feared to be cut from the project due to lack of funds, will arrive next week. It will connect the south entrance to the reception room and the basement, the use of which remains to be determined.
Pederson hopes the basement might be used for community events.
Keeping it local is a theme throughout the new clinic. The new board room will be furnished with a table and chairs from Rough Rider Industries, a company out of Bismarck that seeks to rehabilitate former prison inmates through job training.
Administrative staff also hope to decorate the clinic’s freshly painted walls with photographs taken by locals. Those interested in displaying their pictures can contact Ryan Mickelsen, COO, or visit http://www.tiogahealth.org/clinic-photo-upload/ for more information.
The freestanding clinic will remain in use until the new facility is completed. A decision on what to do with the building after the clinic moves has yet to be made.
With little more than finishing touches remaining, the new facility should be open for business by the beginning of August. Tioga Medical Center plans to throw an open house for community members in September, says Pederson.
“We’re looking forward to being able to serve our patients more efficiently in a new facility that the citizens of Tioga helped build.”