Upon review of information available by experts and with the support of Altru’s Board of Directors, Altru has decided to replace Altru Main Clinic.
After clinic evacuation on Thursday, December 29, engineers from EAPC and Construction Engineers immediately analyzed the failure, performed design calculations, and developed and implemented plans to correct the failure. Altru also hired a third party structural engineering consultant, Heyer Engineering, to review the structural integrity of the clinic to allow reuse of the building. “We wanted a third party analysis to assure the public safety of our building,” shared Ken Vein, Administrative Director of Altru’s Plant and Facilities Division. “Heyer subcontracted a structural forensic specialist to be part of their team. They developed a seven-step process to re-certify structural integrity.
Problems evident by their observations included: an undersized stiff plate, lack of lateral bracing, undersized column cap plate and improper orientation of column flanges. All observations can be corrected, but would take an estimated six months to correct and costs would be significant.
The building was originally designed and built between 1974 and 1976 by Harold J Westin & Associates from St. Paul, Minn. After reviewing the information available, it is Altru’s belief that design deficiencies caused the failure in the beam. “It is important to point out that the design components are limited to the Main Clinic; none of Altru’s other buildings have the same design,” stated Dave Molmen, Chief Executive Officer. “After hearing the preliminary assessment from experts, we decided we could not in good conscience ask our staff and patients to go back into the building.”
“With support of Altru’s Board of Directors, we have decided to replace the facility.” In addition to patient safety and patient care, Molmen stated that moving in this direction is a solid business decision for those whom are served.
Six years ago, Altru’s Board of Directors approved a Master Site and Facility Plan that called for replacing all of our buildings on Columbia Road. Goals for the plan included: making all hospital patient rooms private rooms, increasing capacity and efficiency in our clinics, reducing congestion on our Columbia Road campus, and designing our buildings for how care will be delivered in the future. This replacement was to occur in several phases over the course of fifteen years.
A few months later, Altru addressed its most immediate needs – private hospital rooms and increased clinic capacity – by acquiring facilities on South Washington Medical Park. This bought us some time but many of the facility challenges we faced six years ago still exist today.
“We have determined that the best way to serve patients is to make replacement of the Main Clinic the first phase of implementing our Master Plan,” stated Dennis Reisnour, Chief Strategy Officer. “Over the next several months, we’ll review and update the Master Plan and will begin design and construction of facilities that help accomplish the goals set forth in the original plan. This will certainly involve building a major clinic on the Columbia Road campus. It could also involve facilities in other parts of our community as we seek to reduce congestion around the Altru Hospital.”
He continued, “Implementing the full first phase of our plan will take considerable time – probably two years. Yet, there are pieces of the plan that can be completed at a faster rate. As specific plans are developed, they will be shared.”
“Even though we have taken square footage offline, we have been able to provide the high quality care that our patients expect. We have maintained near full operations of our clinic specialties and expect to be fully operational in the near future,” shared Brad Wehe, Chief Operating Officer.
An assessment of the interim locations of all clinic practices is ongoing and we anticipate the potential need of some remodeling to accommodate the long-term placement of these practices.
“We look to the future with optimism. We remain committed to being innovative and efficient in how we deliver healthcare. Our highest priority is the patient,” ends Wehe. “As we move forward, we will strive to meet our patients’ needs and provide a world-class healthcare experience.”
About Altru Health System
Altru Health System is a community-owned, integrated system with an acute care hospital, a specialty hospital, more than a dozen clinics in Grand Forks and the region, and a large home care network. It employs more than 200 physicians and 4,000 staff and has an annual net operating revenue of more than $524 million. As the first member of the Mayo Clinic Care Network, Altru’s providers have access to clinically integrated tools extending Mayo Clinic’s knowledge and expertise to patients.