Weather Forecast


Perham Health moves into new building

The mood among hospital employees was a mix of excitement and nostalgic sadness on Monday, as they said 'goodbye' to their old stomping grounds, and 'hello' to the new Perham Health.

After 10 years of brainstorming, designing and building, the new state-of-the-art healthcare center is now officially open for business.

A four-day move started early last Friday morning; all the patients and equipment were at the new hospital by Monday afternoon. The old location is now closed to the public.

And while the doctors, nurses and other staff look forward to getting comfortable in their fancy new digs, leaving a familiar place behind can be emotional.

There're staff members that have been with the hospital for decades, and some that have never known another work environment. Everyone was used to working at their old stations, of being near certain coworkers, friends and neighbors. They were also used to being right next door to Perham Living, where more than 100 employees will remain.

"I got up today and went to the other hospital (the old one), expecting to be excited," said Perham Health CEO Chuck Hofius. "But I had tears in my eyes on the way over. I saw nurses with tears in their eyes, too."

Still, Hofius added, "I think everybody's excited to be serving patients in this facility. I could feel the excitement growing throughout the day.

The hospital's move consultant, Katie Lundmark, said, "I feel really excited. Yes, we've moved. It's a momentous occasion today. There's a sadness. But it's really about where we go from here ... all the memories to be made."

Lundmark has been leading the move since she took the position in April, though she said a committee of 10 started planning for it more than a year ago. She will take over as Long Term Care Director at Perham Living in February.

Coordinating the move took an exhaustive attention to detail, and serious organizational skills. It involved constant communication between staff, departments, patients and families, and Beltmann Group, a moving company out of Minneapolis that the hospital hired.

Lundmark and the moving committee were charged with devising a plan for a smooth, safe transition. They needed to make sure that the move would not interfere with patient care; that there would never be a moment when someone would have to go without a needed medicine, meal, procedure or anything else, even in times when supplies were split between both buildings.

The committee tackled this massive task by breaking the new building down into more manageable pieces: first into different hospital departments, then individual rooms. They made a systematic schedule of what would be moved, when. Things were packed into color-coded boxes, which matched up with a color-coded map of the building, so everyone could see where things needed to go.

Things not pertinent to patient safety were moved over first, such as business office equipment and supplies.

Then, from 8-10 a.m. Monday morning, the "crucial" departments were moved over - the ER, pharmaceuticals, and lab and radiology. The patients were also moved during this time. One at a time, accompanied by a nurse, patients were transported by ambulance (at the hospital's expense) from the old hospital to the new.

For those two hours, the hospital was essentially operating from two locations at once. Lundmark said she and the committee spent weeks, if not months, planning for just those two hours alone, to make sure they went off without a hitch.

In the end, their hard work paid off. While some small glitches were inevitably encountered, mostly with computers, both Hofius and Lundmark said the move went remarkably well.

There were a couple of surprises, however.

The hospital had purposely not scheduled any surgeries during the time of the move, but that didn't stop two people from needing them. Hofius said with a chuckle that one last emergency surgery was held at the old hospital, while another was unexpectedly needed right away at the new one.

There were also a couple of people who walked into the new ER a little early, to the staff's surprise.

But everyone was taken care of, Hofius said, and "everything went well."

"The staff that were on hand were amazing," said Lundmark.

Though the professional movers provided 23 men and three trucks to haul the multiple truckloads back and forth all weekend, it was hospital staff that packed and unpacked the countless boxes.

Making the move a success, said Lundmark, was a true team effort.

"It's been really rewarding to see this whole process," she said.