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TCHC secures $3 million expansion

Tri-County Health Care (TCHC) officials announced Dec. 21 that the Wadena hospital will be undergoing a $3 million renovation and expansion that includes a new rehabilitation center, as well as 17 new patient exam rooms intended for use by specialists in general surgery, OB/GYNs, orthopedic specialists, dermatologists and visiting specialists.

Nathan Hendrickson, facilities director for TCHC, said the 5,400 square feet of new exam rooms will be located on the second floor in the space that was previously home to the hospital's administration staff, who have already moved down to the basement in order to make room for the additional specialist exam spaces.

"What this will hopefully do is give some additional physician access, comfort and privacy (to the patients)," said Jilene Fiemeyer, TCHC communications specialist.

Fiemeyer also said the entire project was projected to be complete near the end of 2013.

Chief Financial Officer Kim Aagard said a new rehab center will open for patients Jan. 28. Services involving physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy will be moved into the newly acquired building on the west side of Jefferson Street, near the hospital. Construction crews were hard at work Dec. 21 with transforming the building from an old TV center to TCHC's new rehabilitation space.

Aagard said the building's appearance on the market at just the right time helped the hospital avoid having to construct an entirely new health care facility from scratch, saving millions of dollars. Additional features planned for the renovation include a combined hospital and clinic admission desk, a laboratory moved closer to the entrance for convenience, and space for Dr. Aaron Larson's psychiatry practice to move inside the main TCHC building from its current location inside the Wesley building, on the east side of Jefferson Street, opposite TCHC, Aagard said.

Aagard added that the renovation has already allowed TCHC to add 15 new jobs in the past year. Also, many of the contractors working on the project are local, such as Steven Johnson Construction, Doug's Plumbing and Horizon Painting & Restoration, Hendrickson said.

The new project will mean better access to health care for people living in and around Wadena, Aagard said.

"It's exciting to see our facility grow and expand for our citizens, especially with all the unknowns in health care today," she said.