Ribbon cut: Grand River in Rifle officially opens new expansion | PostIndependent.com

Ribbon cut: Grand River in Rifle officially opens new expansion

People tour the new expansion of the Grand River Health hospital.
Ray K. Erku / Post Independent

Battlement Mesa resident Sara Musson is wheelchair-bound. But that didn’t stop her from joining what turned out to be one of the first tours through the new Grand River Health patient wing.

“We needed it,” she said Tuesday of the expansion, her husband, Ken, slowly pushing her behind the group. “The community’s grown so much, with more and more people moving in.”

Following speeches by Grand River Health CEO Jim Coombs; Rep. Perry Will, R-New Castle; Garfield County Commissioner Mike Samson; and Rifle Mayor Barbara Clifton, among others who spearheaded the effort, Tuesday ushered in the first official opening of the 100,000-square-foot addition.

The Mussons, both former certified nursing assistants, were elated.

“I wish I could work here,” Sara Musson said, “but I couldn’t.”

One of the new patient rooms inside the new expansion at Grand River Health.
Ray K. Erku / Post Independent

By a margin of more than 60%, voters in the Grand River Hospital District passed an $89.4 million bond issue in 2017, which would support not only the hospital’s expansion but the construction of the new Grand River Care Center on East Fifth Street.

Based on that critical vote alone, Grand River now introduces a building expansion that includes three floors. This includes an expansion to the hospital’s infusion center.

Amber Hill is a registered nurse in the oncology department and said Grand River’s original infusion center, created about four years ago, had just two chairs. Now, the Rifle hospital has six glass-door infusion rooms, thanks to the community’s efforts.

“It’s huge, because now we will be able to have chemo patients come and get their care here and be able to do average chemo from here and do antibiotic fluids, a whole bunch of just any type of infusions that they need to help them get better,” Hill said. “This way we’re able to help immensely.”

A quilt, which hangs on a second-floor wall of Grand River’s new patient wing, is dedicated to Dr. Oscar Clagett. Clagett was responsible for providing health care to the Rifle area for many years.
Ray K. Erku / Post Independent

The first floor is complete with a sleek, modern-day design reception area and pharmacies as well as cardiac pulmonary rehab and cardiopulmonary areas.

“We’ll have so many more patients than we’re helping now,” Hill said.

The second floor has 25 private patient rooms. It’s assorted with swing-bed, step-down and medical-surgical units, Grand River Administrative Director Annick Pruett said.

“Community members really want a private room when they’re trying to recuperate for a number of reasons,” she said. “No. 1, you sleep better, it’s better at infection control, and it’s just a better healing environment; your family can be with you. It just speeds up the healing.”

The third floor awaits future plans.


Standing before a crowd of nurses and medical practitioners, administrators and anyone interested in seeing the new expansion, Coombs referred to the hospital’s new look as a “dream” of the people.

“It expands our capabilities here at the hospital,” he said. “We have ICU-level beds, we also have swing beds as part of this expansion. So that means if somebody needs an extra day or two after surgery, or having a hip or knee replacement needs just a little extra time to recover … that’s here.”

Grand River Health CEO Jim Coombs gives a speech prior to the ribbon cutting of the facility’s new expansion.
Ray K. Erku / Post Independent

Will echoed Coombs’ mention of the expansion being a dream, calling it “wonderful.”

“This is such a community asset, and everyone in this community and everyone should be proud of the fact that they got this great thing,” he said. “The community support is awesome.”

Samson said the expansion will stand here for years. He didn’t want to call it a monument but a place of healing.

“But I think even more important than that, I’ve heard that humor is the best medicine — I would disagree,” Samson said. “I think love … love is the best. And this, I can see, will be a house of love.”

Clifton offered her congratulations to the evolution of the hospital expansion and that if last year’s COVID-19 pandemic has taught anything, “it’s the importance of health care.

Rifle Mayor Barbara Clifton praises the voters of Grand River Health hospital district for passing a bond issue, which supported Grand River’s expansion.
Ray K. Erku / Post Independent

“Grand River has done a spectacular job, and this hospital expansion and the new Grand River health care center demonstrate their commitment to excellent health care,” she said. “I want to also congratulate all the voters of the district who had the foresight to actually vote and to understand the importance of this expansion.”

Reporter Ray K. Erku can be reached at 612-423-5273 or rerku@citizentelegram.com.

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