Conversations with people who call Prineville Oregon home
Wednesday, April 16, 2014
St. Charles Health System Breaks Ground on Prineville Campus
Cascade Business News podcast & article 4/15/2014
by Bill Mintiens
Expected to stimulate development in Crook County community leaders, St. Charles Health System personnel and residents of Prineville broke ground on the new St. Charles Prineville Campus on April 9. Under bright sunny skies twelve shovels ceremonially marked the start of construction on the $30 million hospital being built on the growing east side of the city.
Replacing the aging Pioneer Memorial Hospital north of downtown, the new facility is expected to take 16 months to build, opening during the summer of 2015.
The new hospital’s location, along with its new philosophy on healthcare, is expected to be a much-needed economic development shot in the arm for Prineville.
Steve Forrester, Prineville’s city manager, understands the impact of the new hospital. “It’s been a lot of years of hard work and dedication to bring it to the point where we are now. If you look at the scope of development in Prineville, we have the data centers up on the hill next to the airport. But the intersection of Hwy 126 and Combs Flat road (site of the new hospital) is the busiest intersection in our community.”
Large and growing residential developments both south and north of the new hospital make the site very desirable for future commercial development. Add to this the 2015 opening of a new $18 million elementary school north of the hospital and the east side of Prineville is clearly primed for growth.
“Making this new hospital happen here brings city infrastructure out this way. We have a number of homes here that aren’t on city water or sewer, and this development is going to bridge that gap and make a big difference on this end of town,” added Forrester.
Josh Smith, senior planner with City of Prineville, understands what it takes to develop a large-scale commercial project. “It (St. Charles Health System) was really the only large commercial developer capable of building the infrastructure that was needed for the eventual build-out of the rest of this site. There’s plenty of acreage here to expand in the future.”
Jeanie Gentry, the new CEO of Pioneer Memorial Hospital & St. Charles Madras, also understands the importance of the hospital to the local economy, which suffers from both high unemployment and poor health statistics.
“We’re excited that this is the start of a new development here on the former Ochoco Lumber site, it has tremendous economic development opportunities and we’re proud to be able to lead-out on that for the community.”
The Prineville Campus’ philosophy on healthcare is going to be different, focusing on preventative care versus in-patient care.
“Healthcare is changing all the time and we we’ve got to change with it so that we can serve the people of Crook County. This new hospital is going to allow us to change our focus from in-patient sick care to out-patient well care, keeping people healthy,” added Gentry. The new facility’s design will reflect a focus on wellness and prevention.
“It’s (the hospital’s design) focused on primary care. It’s about how to create space in a team environment with practitioners, behavioralists, with nutritionists; to really be thinking consciously about how to keep people well and how to give them the tools and mindset to keep themselves well. This reflects the whole change that’s going on in healthcare and I think it’s very special that one of our smaller communities is taking this on and pioneering this effort,” said Michael Curtis, vice president healthcare of The Neenan Company, the design and build firm for the project. The new hospital will encompass 62,000 square feet and will offer a wide range of patient, family and visitor services. Primary and specialty care clinics, an emergency department, lab, radiology, imaging and rehabilitation services are all part of the new facility.
Dr. Laura Gratton, DO, medical director with the Mosaic Medical Prineville Clinic, is thrilled that the new hospital will be a huge upgrade from the present facility. “I feel we provide state-of-the-art medical care so now we’ll have a state-of-the-art facility to go along with it.”
In order to be more patient-focused individual physician’s offices have been eliminated in favor of central work and lounge spaces for the entire patient-care team. And there will actually be less in-patient space than in the existing Pioneer Memorial Hospital.
“Because our focus is going to be on preventative care the in-patient space is actually less than in the old hospital,” said Gentry.
Additional amenities will include a concierge-style patient greeting desk and a public area with a café, which may also be used for community events and gatherings.
Community leaders believe that the new hospital could be just “what the doctor ordered” in terms of new companies considering a move to Prineville.
“One of the things that we find is, when we have potential businesses coming to town, the first thing they ask about is healthcare and schools. We’re so excited about this project, it’s going to be a real boost to our economy!” said Prineville Mayor Betty Roppe.
Crook County Judge Mike McCabe agrees. “We’ve looked into a number of businesses coming here and, of course, they always ask about schools, and then they want to know what kind of healthcare you have. With this new facility, and its emphasis on preventative care, I think we’re headed in the right direction for the community. It will certainly help us attract new businesses.”
Bob Gomes, former CEO of the Pioneer Memorial Hospital and now CEO with St. Charles Bend & Redmond, summed up the excitement of the groundbreaking event, “Healthcare is a big part of the Prineville community and for us to be able to break ground on this today and bring a new facility to Prineville – for me, personally, it means a lot – but for the community and patients that we serve it’s an exciting day.”