Standing on the edge of what was most recently a field where corn was being grown, a group of healthcare leaders ceremonially tossed a bit of earth into the air May 30.
Although work has been taking place on a site to the east of St. John Lutheran School in Redwood Falls for some time, the groundbreaking event officially kicked off the start of construction of the new Carris Health - Redwood medical facility being erected in the community.
A groundbreaking has two elements, said Ken Holmen, CentraCare president and CEO, which is the parent company of Carris Health.
The first, he said, is physical, as shovels will move the soil, with bulldozers, electricians and all sorts of other folks on the site working to erect the new facility.
The second, he added, is more symbolic. That represents community past, present and future.
Holmen added a community is made up of leaders who address the needs of the people by enhancing what is being offered. That is certainly true in the area of healthcare.
“We are building for the future,” said Holmen, adding the facility being erected is meant to address the healthcare needs of today but also of five, 10, 20 and 25 years from now.
Holmen also expressed appreciation for those from the past who helped to get the community to where it is today, those who are continuing that effort in the present, as well as those who will perpetuate it into the future.
Healthcare is very complex as it relates to the business side, said Holmen, adding it is also very personal to the community. The goal is to see success as a business, but also to continue to meet the needs of the people in the community.
“CentraCare is delighted to be a part of this,” said Holmen, adding the idea behind Carris Health is to ensure local input and governance.
Carris Health was born a little more than two years ago, said Cindy Firkins Smith, Carris Health CEO, when ACMC, Rice Memorial and CentraCare all came together to address what she called the rural healthcare crisis.
“There are a lot of hospitals and rural clinics around the country that are closing, and we recognized that. We didn’t want that for our communities,” said Firkins Smith.
In the end, the belief is that just because one lives in a rural area that should not mean access to good healthcare should be limited.
“Our vision was to re-envision and reinvent rural healthcare,” said Firkins Smith, adding that means providing the right healthcare at the right place and the right time.
Firkins Smith said that concept was quickly brought to Redwood Falls through the leadership at the hospital and community levels as people started asking how that model could serve the people of this community.
“So we’re creating today a brand new medical campus which is going to be the southern hub of Carris,” said Firkins Smith, adding for the community over the next 50 years and beyond it can expect healthcare that is just as good as one would get in the Twin Cities. “We are committed to delivering healthcare close to home.”
Bryan Lydick, Carris Health - Redwood administrator, expressed appreciation to a number of people who helped to make the day possible from the CentraCare and Carris Health leadership to those at the local level who stepped up to provide input as members of the operating committee.
He also thanked the city leadership and the 270-plus staff members of the local hospital and clinic who have continued to provide quality healthcare to the community.
“The staff and providers make up the DNA of Carris Health - Redwood,” said Lydick, adding logos and locations may change, but the caring ways of the staff and providers is unwavering.
Lydick said they truly take pride in providing that care.
“Without great people doing great things this campus would just be an empty building,” said Lydick.
Lydick also expressed appreciation to the Eldo and Elizabeth Schoer family for seeing the vision and providing the land where the facility will be built.
Lydick pointed to two members of the staff, Wade Gronau, who has worked for Carris Health - Redwood for three weeks, and Diane Houtkooper, who has been with the hospital for 41 years as of next month as representative of the staff.
A project like this would not happen without the trust of the community, said Lydick, adding that trust was built as the community was able to provide input in the priorities that will go into the new facility.
Political leaders Congressman Collin Peterson, State Senator Gary Dahms and State Representative Paul Torkelson expressed congratulations to the community and the hospital for the opportunities that will exist in the new facility.
“The future of healthcare delivery is before us,” said Lydick. “Breaking ground on this new medical campus is another step forward for our community and as leaders of rural healthcare.”