RiverView Health facility update from CEO Carrie Michalski

Jess Bengtson
Crookston Times

The Times recently caught up with RiverView Health CEO Carrie Michalski to talk about the COVID-19 pandemic and happened upon a facility update, both on their new building, which will celebrate one year since its 2020 grand opening, and their old buildings.

Times: How has the new facility helped the region along during the pandemic?

Michalski: "There were many enhancements made to our space that have proved valuable during the pandemic.

Logistically, the reconfiguration to a single entrance for everything but emergency department care allowed us to manage patient screening and entry from one parking lot and one door. Then we have all of the things that we can not see with the HVAC (heating/ventilation/air conditioning) systems, that are state of the art in managing airflows, air exchanges and filtering of air supply.

When it came to COVID inpatient care, the large single rooms with windows that allowed the care team to keep eyes on every patient without being continuously in the room and the workstations outside each patient room also provided a staging zone for all of the protective equipment need to keep the team safe while providing care. Every room having a shower and private toilet keeps patients separated and contained in the room.

The four family suites were also able to be converted to additional negative pressure rooms to increase our capacity to treat COVID patients. At times we had patients in our care that Grand Forks or Fargo didn't have room for. So it definitely allowed us to help our tertiary care centers as well when they were short on beds."

Times: Plans for demolition of the old facility?

Michalski: "We have no active timeline for demolition of the facilities that we have deemed desirable to demolish in our future. The advantage of the removal is reducing the ongoing carrying costs of unoccupied square footage and to prepare the space for future possible expansions. The only barrier to commencing that phase is the financial cost to do so. 

Demolition of an older structure, physically connected to an occupied space has to be priced in a range and you have to have a sizeable contingency budget because once you start, you must be able to forge through to completion. Our estimates are $5-8M which includes contingency funds to surgically remove the portion of our original campus buildings that we would like to remove. 

The concept is not foreign to us, in preparation for the construction of the new hospital we removed a section of structure physically connected to structures we left standing on both sides of the demolition site. So what we were able to finance and prepare for when building the new hospital is all of the utilities and HVAC infrastructure in the new building is sized and able to become the sole plant hub when the older portion of the building can be removed. 

We also have done and will continue to do a substantial amount of what we call decommissioning of the unoccupied space. Sewer and water lines removed to ensure no future surprises with aged broken pipes, and that allows us to use less energy by keeping the space cooler in the winter and warmer in the summer. We also moved essential departments that were within our desired demolition zone as part of our recently completed construction project."

Times: Any other additions to the new facility coming up?

Michalski: "After the new construction finished last October, we moved on to renovating some of our existing spaces to compliment and complete the support and workflows of our new facilities.

First, the former specialty clinic space was renovated to become our new pharmacy, surgery wait room and a lactation room for nursing moms. Then, we just completed the final phase of our project in August. The final phase relocated our Patient Financial Services Department (PFS) to the former North Clinic and then renovated the PFS Department to house a brand new processing laboratory for our team of Laboratory Scientists who support our clinicians with diagnostic laboratory testing. 

Now we are focused on new services that we are offering to the community, such as welcoming Dr. Lauren Rose to Crookston and to our obstetrics and family medicine team, the treatment of various veins and laser vein therapies, our reflux evaluation and treatment program, our world leading complex spine care and a new Rehab Therapy Clinic that we will be opening in October in Fertile, MN."

The main entrance on the east side of the new RiverView Health campus in Crookston