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UHD remodels ER at the cost of $6 million

By Staff | Jan 27, 2019

UHD’s Emergency Room was last updated in 1999, almost 20 years ago, and CEO Rick Ash says patient’s needs are changing, so the ER is going to be remodeled to suit those needs.

A large $6 million remodeling project at United Hospital District (UHD) hospital in Blue Earth is well underway.

The major portion of the remodeling involves the emergency room area. It will be expanded and updated.

But, there are also projects involving the in-hospital reception desk area, the chapel, restrooms and gift shop. Some of the HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) in the hospital is also going to be changed and updated, as well. In fact, the HVAC changes are some of the larger costs involved with the work being done.

“The original ER (emergency room) was built in 1968,” says Rick Ash, UHD chief executive officer. “It was last updated in 1999.”

Ash says the major reason for the remodeling is due to the way patients needs are changing. There are more cases of mental health issues being handled in the ER these days.

Construction is going full-speed ahead at United Hospital District in Blue Earth. The ER’s main entrance has been relocated to the corner of 10th Street and Galbraith Street until the updates are complete.

“We need to be more aware of patient safety and security,” Ash says. “Not just for the patient being treated or held, but other patients in the emergency room area. Staff safety and security is also a concern.”

Ash says it is not uncommon for a person to be brought into the ER who needs to be restrained. So, one of the new additions is a secure locked room where a patient cannot harm others or themselves.

And, Ash adds, sometimes this person needs to be held in the room for several days before being released or transported elsewhere.

The emergency room itself will be expanded. To the north it will move out into the hallway that served as an operation room waiting area. To the south a whole new outside brick wall will be built, to the east of the current emergency room entrance.

That entrance will eventually go away, and entrance to the new emergency room area will be in the main front door to the hospital itself.

While the construction is going on, entrance at the main front door into the hospital will be limited. They are still accessible for those who are going to physical therapy, but not much else.

The main entrance is temporarily moved to the UHD Clinic doors.

And, the emergency room area itself is being temporarily moved to just inside the northeast doors in the rear of the hospital area, at the intersection of 10th and Galbraith streets.

There are some other significant components to the project besides the emergency room. Both the hospital’s gift shop and chapel areas will be upgraded and will actually swap places. The gift shop will be located just inside the main front doors, across from the reception/information desk.

The hospital reception/front desk will be moved to be very close to the front door, and will also serve as the entryway into the ER. It is currently located down a hallway from the front door. For the construction period, the reception desk will be by the nurses station, near the temporary ER on the northeast side of the building.

When in doubt, follow the signs, Ash points out.

A portion of the UHD Clinic is also a part of this project. An area on the far south side of the clinic will be finished off with more exam rooms and offices for medical staff.

“We are growing,” Ash explains. “We have 17 medical persons and another one coming in June. Some of our doctors and other medical staff are sharing offices now.”

Ash says that when the project was first proposed the initial cost projections were at $3.5 million. However, the current actual costs are expected to be $6 million.

“We actually came in with almost $8 million in costs if we did everything that we first wanted to do,” Ash explains. “But now we have it at $6 million.

Ash added the project should be done by this fall, by the end of October.

UHD is one of the major employers in Blue Earth. They have 244 total employees, with 196 of them full time. Total payroll comes to $14.364 million per year, with another $4 million in employee benefits.

Overall, UHD has just over $33 million in expenses each year.

The hospital and clinic has 10 physicians on staff, another four specialist physicians and nine advanced practice providers, such as PA-Cs (physician assistants-certified) and CNPs (certified nurse practitioners).