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A new look as hospital merges with clinic in Detroit Lakes

For the past couple of years, St. Mary's Innovis Health in Detroit Lakes has been in the process of a transformation that goes much deeper than a change of name.

Two years ago, Innovis Health joined with St. Mary's parent company, Essentia Health. That allowed the Detroit Lakes Innovis clinic and St. Mary's Regional Health Center, as it was known at that time, to integrate locally.

"Today, we have one board, one management structure, physicians in leadership roles throughout the organization," said Tom Thompson, CEO of St. Mary's. "and every one of our departments have been integrated. With the exception of radiology and our retail pharmacy, we have physically merged everything as well."

When the new Medical Office Building at St. Mary's is completed in 2011, that physical integration is expected to be complete, Thompson added. Essentially, duplication of services between the clinic and hospital has been, or soon will be eliminated.

The physical changes involved with that integration process have also been extensive, Thompson noted.

Last year, a 40,000 square foot addition to the St. Mary's campus was completed. The addition included a new, integrated Therapy Center as well as additional space for the adjacent nursing home.

The Therapy Center now provides services for all ages, from pediatric to geriatric.

"The staff capabilities we offer are unmatched in the region," Thompson said.

Once the addition was completed, work began on renovation of the existing nursing home space. The renovation was just completed, Thompson noted.

"There was a dramatic need," he said of the reason for the nursing home renovation. "We had virtually no private rooms, and 70 percent of residents shared a bathroom with three other people."

And even the shared rooms were on the small side, with a mere 200 square feet of space intended to house two people, said Thompson.

With the renovation completed, the vast majority of rooms are now private, and are divided into four distinct "neighborhoods," each having their own dining, kitchen, laundry and spa facilities, he added.

"In the old days, we had one shower room for 50 residents ... now we have a spa in each neighborhood," Thompson said.

In addition, all private rooms now have their own showers.

"Now we have an incredible facility -- it's just a remarkable place," said Thompson.

To reflect all these changes, the nursing home known as St. Mary's Nursing Center was also reborn under a new name -- Oak Crossing.

And the changes still aren't done. With Oak Crossing now complete, work has begun on the next phase -- construction of a new Medical Office Building (MOB), or clinic.

The new clinic building will be located where the hospital's 1929, 1939 and 1975 facilities are now, Thompson said. In preparation for the demolition of the existing facilities, the departments now located there -- including Thompson's own office --are in the process of finding new homes.

The non-patient care services now located in the old part of the hospital will be temporarily relocated to SMIH's north campus (the former County Market building).

"We're beginning that work now," said Thompson, noting that demolition of the old buildings is slated for next spring.

"They've served their purpose," he added. "They're well used -- almost a hundred years old."

The old buildings also house the boiler plant and loading dock facilities. A new loading dock is scheduled for completion in January, and the new, more energy efficient heating system will be completed in the spring.

"The old boiler has run out its useful life," Thompson explained, adding that it can no longer serve the needs of the hospital's constantly expanding facilities.

When the new 50,000 square foot clinic building is complete, Thompson noted, "It will complete the integration journey that we've been on for the last two years.

"I can't think of another organization of our size in the state of Minnesota that has the potential to do what we're doing -- I'm very proud of what we've accomplished in two years," he continued. "It's only going to bring good things for our community."

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454
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