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Sam Benshoof/FOCUS Construction of the hospital's sign, visible from Highway 10, will be completed by Oc

Perham's $35 million hospital nearing completion

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Perham is just a few months away from having a brand new hospital.

The new Perham Memorial Hospital, which has been under construction for nearly two years, is on schedule for an end-of-2011 completion and public open house event, CEO Chuck Hofius said.

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While much of the hospital's exterior is completed, work on the inside continues every day.

Visitors to the hospital will be greeted by a large, well-lit atrium. Hofius pointed to two aspects of the atrium - large amounts of natural light and artwork - as representative of the rest of the hospital's philosophy of design.

A large glass chandelier, not yet installed, will hang from the ceiling high above the entrance. Other works of art will hang on the atrium's walls.

Natural lighting, Hofius said, is a significant factor in family and patient healing. Likewise, the artwork, of which there will be more than 300 pieces throughout the hospital, will work to distract families and patients.

"If we can have enough distractions to distract people for 45 seconds, that will make a big impact," Hofius said.

A water wall will highlight the back of the atrium, with a fireplace on the opposite side.

Hofius said the goal in creating the public part of the atrium was to make it as lively a place as possible. Objects such as a piano playing for guests, he said, would help achieve that.

Off the side of the atrium will be a café, which will be open to the public. The café will feature both indoor and outdoor seating, with the outdoor seating overlooking a healing garden, one of four outdoor areas at the hospital.

Other outdoor areas will include a meditation area and a mile-long walking path through the woods surrounding the building. Craig Johnson, an area architect, helped to design the outdoor projects.

More space

The biggest aspect of the new hospital that differs from the current building, Hofius said, is that nearly every department will have more space.

The pharmacy alone will nearly triple in size, going from 4,000 square feet to 12,000.

The hospital's lab is another department that will benefit from more space.

"The lab is one of the most crunched places at the current building," Hofius said.

Each department at the new hospital was designed with expansion in mind, and will have the ability to be added on to in the future.

"We wanted to make sure we have a way to move and expand," Hofius added.

The new building was also designed to maximize efficiency. For example, the retail pharmacy in the current hospital is on the side of the building, and pharmacists have to go back and forth between the pharmacy and the hospital. In the new building, the pharmacists only need to go through a connecting door.

Similarly, the current hospital has just one centralized nurses station. The new facility will have one station for every five patient beds (there are 25 beds total).

Families

The new hospital was also designed with families in mind, Hofius said. Patient rooms will all have space for families to relax and spend time with the patient.

Special family rooms are also included throughout the patient area, where families can sit or make food to make themselves comfortable.

"Families will feel like they belong here," Hofius said. "What we're doing is patient-family centered care."

Additionally, the new hospital will include more private rooms for family consultation.

"One thing we struggle with at the current building is we don't have any private areas," Hofius said. "The new building will have a lot of space where we can pull a family aside to have a private conversation."

The birthing center of the new hospital, which is included in the regular patient section of the current building, will have its own space.

Some of the $375,000 that was donated by the Wardale family was used to create a high-tech security system for the birthing area, Hofius said.

The new Emergency Room will also have more space, increasing from four beds to possibly up to 10.

Overall, Hofius estimated that a total of 30 new staff members could be hired by the end of the first year at the new building. Already, nearly 10 new staff members have been added.

"We've started gearing up and staffing for that," Hofius said.

Hofius hopes the hospital can be nearly completed by Oct. 1, so the building can have three months of test-runs before patients arrive. Open houses for the public will take place sometime in December.

The transferring of patients will start on Jan. 9, though Hofius said things such as offices and records could start staging earlier.

Overall, the project cost $35 million, much of which was raised by selling bonds.

The hospital's year-long capital campaign raised more than $3 million, Hofius said. The largest donation - $500,000 - came from KLN Enterprises, and the company's employees donated another $500,000 match.

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