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Clinic to move; W’bago center hires director

By Staff | Dec 8, 2008

The former Mankato Clinic building in Blue Earth will be remodeled to provide more space for United Hospital District — Clinics medical personnel and two doctors joining the staff next year.

United Hospital District — Clinics at the Ag Center in Blue Earth can’t wait for its new location proposed on the hospital campus.

They’ve run out of room.

So, the old hospital — site of the former Mankato Clinic — will be put back to use as a medical facility.

UHD administrator Jeff Lang says the 12 examination rooms at the current location aren’t enough.

He says the space problems should be addressed before two family practice physicians come on board next year.

On Tuesday, the hospital administrator asked the board of directors for $75,000 to do some remodeling.

“We’ve outgrown our space out there. We have too many providers,” he says. “We don’t have very many choices, and that’s a good problem to have.”

Dr. Aaron Johnson was hired in September and Jennifer Smith recently accepted an offer to join the staff. Both are scheduled to start in August or September.

Last week, hospital officials started a series of forums to explain and gain public input on two proposed expansion projects estimated to cost $19 million.

Boardmember Larry Anderson says the public hearing news of remodeling the “old hospital” for the district’s medical staff may wonder why millions has to be spent on a new facility.

“If you can accommodate all of those people for $75,000, why are you spending $15 million?” Anderson asked Lang. “How would you answer that? That seems like a logical question.”

Lang says using the old hospital is a ‘short-term’ solution and fixing the building does not address problems and goals identified in UHD’s long-term ‘campus plan.’

Fixing up the former medical center, says the administrator, will probably be significantly less than the $75,000 approved by the board. But, Lang says corners won’t be cut to save money.

“We want to make sure we have a decent facility to serve our patients,” he adds.

The temporary clinic is expected to be ready by April 1 and would be used for two years, until the new facility is built.

Lang called the remodeling project “a wash,” because UHD currently pays $40,000 annually in rent at the Ag Center.

Before any renovation work can begin, UHD officials will help find a new location for the current tenant, Home Health Hospice.

Meanwhile, officials may not know where a proposed $4 million adolescent treatment center in Winnebago will be built, but they have hired a new program director.

Naomi Ochsendorf, a chemical dependency assessor in Martin County, will start her new duties on Dec. 29.

She replaces Greg Bloodgood, who resigned Nov. 1 and contacted her about applying for the job.

Ochsendorf says she doesn’t plan to make any drastic changes and it will be business as usual.

“If it’s not broken, I’m not going to try to fix it,” she says, adding the Winnebago facility has a great reputation.

Before working in Martin County, Ochsendorf was a program director of a halfway house in Rochester for seven years.

Ochsendorf lives in Trimont with her husband Terry and their two sons, 7-year-old Caden and 4-year-old Cooper. She plans to commute daily to Winnebago.

One of her first duties will be attending architect planning meetings for the proposed facility.|

“This is a great time to get involved. I feel very fortunate that I’ve been given this opportunity,” she says.

Lang says a committee comprised of treatment center employees helped interview Ochsendorf.

“We are very excited to have someone of Naomi’s caliber join the staff. She’s going to be wonderful in terms of assisting in designing the facility,” he adds.