With the red iron growing into the skyline above Graham Mesa many Rifle residents have noticed the new Grand River Health care center project near East Fifth Street and Ute Avenue.
The footprint of another GRH project, which began a few months later, is taking shape behind Grand River Health on south Rifle.
With the growth of the community in mind and the need to expand services, Grand River Health is undergoing the largest project since opening in the spring of 2003.
“We are currently at capacity here at the hospital, and having to divert people because we didn’t have enough beds,’ Grand River Health CEO Jim Coombs said.
“So we are expanding the bay capacity from 12 to 25 beds, and undergoing an expansion on services as well.”
Grand River worked with western Garfield County residents on the community-driven project, for which services they would like the hospital to offer in the future.
In November 2017 Grand River Hospital District voters passed an $89.4 million bond issue to cover a three-story approximately 100,000-square-foot hospital expansion and new 110,000-square-foot care center which will replace the existing E. Dene Moore Care Center.
The new hospital expansion, which is located on the south side of the existing 162,217-square-foot campus, is the largest single expansion in the facility’s history.
“The ground has been cleared, most of the excavation is done. All the utilities have been moved and placed.” Coombs said.
“We had to relocate our backup supply of propane, the oxygen tanks that supply the hospital for patients rooms, that also had to be moved. They are just about ready to start digging the holes for the piling that the foundation will go into.”
Combs said it is a huge project for the hospital.
“It will give us all private rooms, and over the coming years there is going to be a domino-effect for areas to get backfilled and remodeled. There will be a host of smaller projects over the next number of years as capital comes available,” Coombs said.
The expansion will include an intensive care unit, cardiac rehab center and infusion center for cancer services.
“We won’t have a full-blown cancer program, but we will have that ability for providing weekly chemotherapy so you don’t have to drive a long ways. People can stay close to home and get that, especially afterwards when your not feeling well,” Coombs said. “We will have an ICU and be able to keep higher acuity of patients here.”
Grand River Health is also planning for the future, with the third floor being shelled space to complete later.
“It will create the capacity of this hospital for the next 20 to 30 years. The expansion has a little bit of shell space for additional capacity to expand down the road. We would be able to add more beds beyond the 25 at some point in the future as the community grows without having to build a completely new space.” Coombs said.
Due to a groundwater issue the patient wing expansion project is 4-6 months behind schedule.
Annick Pruett, administrative director and community relations with Grand River, said the water issue was discovered as they were excavating.
“There was a lot of groundwater, and they were trying to find out where it came from. Turns out it was the irrigation water from our neighbors that had not been flowing properly,” Pruett said.
With the help of FCI, the general contractor on the project, new trenches were built for the neighboring farm and Grand River Health offered to feed their livestock during that time.
“You’re always nervous when you ask someone to turn off their irrigation water when they are in the middle of growing hay, but they were open about it. FCI, general contractor, was great about saying they would do whatever it takes. They were able to mitigate that and plan for the future and moving forward.
Pruett added over time that the expansion will create about 200 jobs in the community.
The patient wing project is slated to be completed mid-summer to early fall of 2021.
“There are still a few variables to put an exact date on it,” Coombs said.
A CARE CENTER FOR THE 21ST CENTURY
Opened in 1968, E. Dene Moore Care Center currently has the capacity of 50 beds in the 27,000-square-foot facility.
The facility offers skilled nursing services, physical, occupational, and speech therapy.
Spaulding said that 60% of the care center population comes in for care after knee and hip replacements before returning home.
Currently, 40% percent are full-time residents.
“The care center is very similar, we are at capacity, it’s an old building and we were really at the point if it didn’t pass we were going to have to shut it down” Coombs said.
“We’ve been using a lot of duct tape the last couple of years.”
The new care center will have 87 private rooms for residents and a town square feature that will have a café, gathering area for music, a general store, spa and salon.
Offering a “neighborhoods concept” at 110,000-square feet, the new facility will triple the size of the existing care center.
“Each neighborhood will have 18 beds; there is an option of one shared room in each neighborhood. The rest will all be private, which will be incredible for residents,” GRH Patient Experience Officer Kenda Spaulding said.
Currently, there are four residents to each bathroom; in the new care center each resident will have his or her own private bathroom.
“I marvel that originally the care center had three people to a room. It kind of shows you how much long-term care has progressed. It’s not your grandmother’s nursing home anymore, it’s really come a long way, much more person-centered,” Pruett said.
New to the care center will be a fifth section dedicated to memory care, which will have 15 rooms.
The residents are incredibly excited they have a viewing area. They watch everything that is happening through a big window,” Spaulding said. “I’ve yet to hear a single complaint about noise or vibration, because they are so excited.”
Grand River Health officials expect a certificate of occupancy to be obtained by Nov.-Dec. 2020, with residents able to move in January of 2021.
“Once we open those three neighborhoods, that would allow us to tear down the old building, which I’m sure will have some mixed feelings because it has taken care of a lot people and been a part of the community for so long,” Spaulding said.