In tour, RiverView Health's transformation really pops

Mike Christopherson
Mortenson Construction Project Manager Jason Toso stands outside the main east entrance to the new RiverView Health facility.

With the goal of seeing their first patients in their new and renovated $50 million hospital on Oct. 25 and construction substantially complete, RiverView Health staff in mid-July started to move into the portions of the new facility that they’re able to, while the general contractor, Mortenson Construction, and various subcontractors continue to do interior work, from the south end of the facility and working toward the north.

Mortenson Construction Project Manager Jason Toso led a media tour of the facility Thursday, with various RiverView staff. With substantial work continuing in northernmost portions of the building, the tour was limited to the southern areas of the building. 

Once the move is complete, RiverView Chief Operating Officer Chris Bruggeman explained, physicians, nurses, technicians, specialists and other staff will spend around 60 days giving the new facility, equipment and electronics a massive test-run, of sorts, before seeing real patients. All sorts of procedures and scenarios will be practiced and simulated, he said, such as the “practice birth of a baby.”

Toso said there have been various glitches along the way, but noted that the project overall has gone relatively smooth. With a peak level of 90 to 100 personnel working on the project for the past five to six months, he said they’re starting to draw down the number of people on site now.

When it comes to efficient use of space, the sizes of patient rooms, comforts for families of patients and amenities for patients themselves, the new RiverView Health is nothing like the old RiverView Health, at least when it comes to the facility itself. As Bruggeman noted, the smallest patient room in the new facility is larger than the largest patient room in the hospital that was demolished as part of the project.

The first floor is entirely out-patient, with 48 exam rooms featuring barn-door entrances for patients and separate entrances for nurses, physicians and technicians into each exam room. They will enter from collaborative spaces between the pods of exam rooms that are divided into family practice and specialty pods.

The second floor is entirely in-patient in nature, with 21 patient rooms. There are four intensive care rooms and three labor and delivery rooms. There are also four “family suites” with beds and restrooms for families, and patient rooms are equipped with couches featuring pull-out beds. Second-floor patient rooms on the east side overlook the Red Lake River. To enhance the view of patients on the west side, their windows will look out onto a “green roof” featuring plants and other foliage.

Other amenities include a “white noise” system in each patient room that will allow patients to sleep at night by blocking out noise from the hallway. In each labor and delivery room, a sink is especially sized to fit a newborn, and the bathrooms have personal, unique designs to make new moms feel more at home.

Security is enhanced in the new facility, especially in the labor and delivery area. Anyone not wearing a wristband or appropriate badge will set off alarms if they enter an area they are not authorized to.

Physicians have a cluster of individual office spaces to improve collaboration and consultation, Brugggeman said. In the old hospital, if, for example, Dr. Eric Kanten had a patient with a shoulder injury, orthopedic physician Dr. Collin Fennell’s office was on the other side of the building. Now, they’ll be able to consult with each other in much closer proximity.

As part of the project, an addition was also built onto RiverView’s Memory Care Unit. Toso said a “Memory Care Garden” outside is also in the works.

RiverView Marketing Manager Stacy Bruggeman said a “drive-through” style event is in the works so the public can come and check out the new grounds while also driving through to get a feel for where they need to go to utilize the various services at the new RiverView Health. An open house is also being envisioned later in the year, but will likely be impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, she noted.