The ribbon is cut; Astera Health hosts grand opening
The Tri-County Health Care moniker and hospital have been retired and replaced with the new Astera Health campus.
WADENA – The “rural health center of the future” is here, and hundreds saw that center for the first time ever on Saturday, March 18.
Astera Health – formerly known as Tri-County Health Care – unveiled its new hospital and clinic campus during a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Saturday. The brand-new campus is located along Highway 10, just west of Wadena.
Prior to the ribbon finally being cut, Astera Health workers, board members and leaders, along with politicians and government officials, spoke to a large, excited crowd during the celebration.
“The theme of our project throughout the last four years has been: ‘imagine, build, transform.’ Imagine what we could do with a new building, designed in a way for today’s health care,” said Joel Beiswenger, Astera Health president and CEO. “Let’s actually get the thing built, which we’ve now done, to help transform the health care experience for our patients, their families, our communities and our staff.”
The 125,900-square-foot facility was built to accommodate the needs of the community, and allow for further growth when those needs inevitably change again in the future.
The old hospital on Jefferson Street North, now referred to as the “Legacy Campus,” was landlocked and built at a time when inpatient care was the norm.
“When we built Tri-County Hospital in 1974, 85% of our activity was on patients identified as inpatients,” Beiswenger said. “Today, that is almost the reversed, where 87% is on outpatient care.”
U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, the senior senator from Minnesota, planned to attend the ceremony, but was unable to due to the funeral of former Vikings head coach Bud Grant.
Klobuchar delivered her remarks through a prerecorded message.
“I’m a big fan of Wadena. Did a lot of work in Wadena after the tornado, and making sure the funding was there to help rebuild,” Klobuchar said. “I’m so proud of how the town looks, and this is just one more exciting aspect of Wadena’s comeback and Wadena’s strength.”
Klobuchar praised many in attendance for bringing the ambitious health care center to fruition.
“Here’s to you in the new facility,” she said. “Enjoy the day, you deserve it.”
Chief Medical Officer Dr. Bobbi Adams noted that while undertaking the Herculean effort to get the facility built, health care providers were working more than ever to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It kind of strikes me as ironic – watching the Tri-County building fade over time, having been highly used and worked to its bones – that we transition at the end of a very long three years of a pandemic, we sort of lay its medical care to rest and begin a new life in a spectacular facility that will serve our communities for the next few decades to come,” Adams said.
Now, health care workers can get a fresh start.
“The last years have been extremely stressful, and caregivers and I thank you for your perseverance,” Adams said. “We came out stronger in the end and hopefully, we can leave a lot of those stressful memories behind at the old Tri-County building.”
About one-third of the old building will be occupied by administrative staff. Medical care, whether in the clinic or hospital, has entirely transitioned to the new Astera Health Campus.
After the speeches and ribbon-cutting ceremony, Astera Health staff took community members on tours of the new building.
Those in attendance got a firsthand look at the health care they’ll now receive.
Many of the facility’s most alluring features, such as abundant natural light, were shown during the tours. Large windows allow natural light to bathe the interior of the facility, creating a warm and comforting glow, and making the hospital feel less clinical than other comparable facilities.
Rooms have been designed to have the exact same layout, which Beiswenger said allows for improved patient care and safety.
“You’ll see when you tour, a concept of room standardization. That is about patient safety, staff safety and efficiency,” Beiswenger said. “It helps drive muscle memory so that when you’re in one OR (operating room), all three are identical.”
Attendees also got a peek at some of Astera’s shiny new equipment, such as ROSA. ROSA is a robotic system designed to assist surgeons with total knee replacement surgery and provide better patient outcomes.
And patients don’t need to worry, the surgeon is in control of ROSA the whole time. At the grand opening, ROSA’s precision was demonstrated through a presentation.
A fake knee slightly swayed back and forth on a table – just as it would in real surgery – and ROSA maintained pinpoint accuracy over the knee, tracking its every movement.
“I’ve been asked as people have started to see the building: What’s my favorite part of the building? And I honestly have to answer: I can’t identify one,” Beiswenger said. “I don’t have a favorite part of the building because there’s so many great things. In the end, it is back to that word: ‘transformation.’ My favorite part is how we’re going to be able to deliver care for you as patients, our communities and their families.”