Altru announces expanded hospital plan, going back to a seven-floor facility; construction is set to begin in fall

Altru told the Herald's editorial board on Tuesday that its new plans for the hospital include space for 226 patient beds, a 16-bed observation unit and the inclusion of boiler plant updates. The new hospital will be built to seven floors.

After pausing construction on a new hospital because of the coronavirus pandemic, Altru plans to go back to the original seven-floor hospital plan that first was pursued by the Grand Forks health system.

Altru made the announcement Tuesday afternoon in a meeting with the Grand Forks Herald’s editorial board. It also discussed its plans going forward with the new facility, including its decision to resume construction this fall.

New plans for the hospital include space for 226 patient beds, a 16-bed observation unit and the inclusion of boiler plant updates. Notably, the new hospital will be built to seven floors; in 2019, Altru modified its original plan to a five-story building, and reduced the budget for the project.

The new budget comes in at $380 million.

“A lot has changed in health care over the past year,” said Steven Weiser, Altru’s president. “As we look ahead and now fully understand the impact of the unknown, we have expanded our plan to ensure we’re ready for what may come in the future. We remain deeply committed to providing world-class care to our region. The state-of-the art hospital will serve as a hub to continue our focus on that commitment.”

New components to the hospital will include private rooms in the neonatal intensive care unit, pre- and post-operative rooms and state-of-the-art operating rooms. The hospital will feature a dedicated trauma operating room with a trauma elevator for quick transport, and on-site equipment not present in the current facility. The hospital will feature a new aesthetic and wayfinding experience, with dedicated walkways for patients and visitors.

Altru will resume construction on the hospital in October. Approximately 18% of the work has already been completed when construction was halted. Until work resumes, hospital officials will focus on finalizing design work, securing financing, gaining state approvals and getting contractors ready back on site.

“We are thrilled to share our new plans for an even better hospital than we first imagined,” said Dave Molmen, Altru’s interim CEO. “The facility will serve our region for generations to come with the innovation, world-class care and calming environment our patients, their families and our staff deserve. The optimal rate environment for financing has provided an opportunity to restructure some of our debt and move forward with a budget that we are comfortable with to execute on this plan.”

Altru paused construction to focus operational resources on patient care and employee support. No re-work will be necessary on the hospital, as the site was properly secured when construction was temporarily stopped.

The new hospital is set to open in 2024.