New hospital plan unveiled

The Perham Memorial Hospital and Home Board of Trustees has made the decision that a new hospital will not be built on the existing PMHH campus. At its November meeting, the board eliminated the current site as an option for the new hospital. Sev...

The Perham Memorial Hospital and Home Board of Trustees has made the decision that a new hospital will not be built on the existing PMHH campus.

At its November meeting, the board eliminated the current site as an option for the new hospital. Several factors contributed to the decision, with the primary reason inadequate space to build a structure that will provide for future growth.

"The decision not to build on our current location was a very difficult decision for the board," said Cal Dockter, Board of Trustees Chair. "It is hard for everyone to consider physically separating the hospital from the nursing home. However, there were many thoughtful reasons that went into the decision. If we are to keep pace with the needs and expectations of our community by placing our patients and families at the center of everything we do, we need a hospital that will allow us to grow to meet those needs. If we build on site, we would have absolutely no room to expand. We're confident the best decision for our community was made."

Other considerations in deciding to build on a totally new site included the fact that a portion of Sixth Avenue, which runs along the east end of the campus, would have to be closed to through traffic and the hospital would have to purchase six to eight neighboring homes to accommodate parking concerns. At that point, the hospital would be completely landlocked, prohibiting any future growth. All parking would be across the street from the hospital, which is already a complaint of patients. Finally, even if built on site, the new hospital and the existing nursing home would be two city blocks apart.

The journey toward a completely new hospital started in earnest this past July, when the Board directed hospital administration to move forward and explore possible site options. Initial discussions were to consider a remodel and addition to the existing building. However, this option was eliminated, primarily because cost estimates showed the difference between a new building and an addition/remodel to be less than 10 percent, as well as the extreme difficulty a phased project would be on patients, families, and caregivers.


The current hospital was built in 1959. Most of the mechanical - heating, cooling, air handling, plumbing, and electrical - are original and nearing the end of use. The patient rooms are too small to accommodate today's technology and the main patient corridor is also the main traffic corridor for the hospital, resulting in noise and privacy concerns.

Continued growth in all areas, especially outpatient services, surgery, and complimentary medicine, has used all available space in the hospital. The MeritCare clinic, which will be built adjacent to the new hospital, is also out of space due to growth and the addition of family medicine and specialty doctors.

PMHH is exploring two locations for its new hospital. The location receiving the most interest is along U.S. Highway 10 directly west of the current hospital. That location is just a few blocks from the current building, allowing ease of transportation for people, supplies, and other services between the two locations, but creates some concern about easy access to the new hospital.

If you are traveling west on Highway 10 and see the new hospital, you've already missed the Highway 78 exit and there is no further exit into Perham. Because of this, PMHH is partnering with the City of Perham, Otter Tail County, and the Minnesota Department of Transportation to explore the possibility of an interchange at Highway 10 and Otter Tail County Road 34.

The second location under consideration is east of the new Dean's Country Market. This location provides good accessibility to Highway 10 but is not as close to the existing campus.

During the upcoming months, hospital administration will continue to study these sites with plans to have a location decided by spring. Simultaneously, design work of the hospital will take place with a projected groundbreaking in April 2009. The project will take about 15 months for completion. A new hospital will be the largest and most progressive expansion project in the organization's history.

What To Read Next
Mike Clemens, a farmer from Wimbledon, North Dakota, was literally (and figuratively) “blown away,” when his equipment shed collapsed under a snow load.
The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission met on Jan. 5, 2023, to consider the application for Summit Carbon Solutions.
Qualified Minnesota farmers will receive dollar-for-dollar matching money to purchase farmland.