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New critical access hospital to be built in Elbow Lake

Prairie Ridge Hospital and Health Services has been selected to receive more than $24 million from USDA Rural Development to build a new critical access hospital in Elbow Lake and purchase a clinic in Morris.

"Critical access hospitals play a vital role by ensuring that all Minnesotans, especially those in rural areas, have access to high quality care," said U.S. Representative Collin Peterson said. "This project will also provide an economic boost to the local communities."

The funding comes in the form of a $20,047,000 direct loan and a $4,030,000 loan guarantee through Rural Development's community facilities program. The current Prairie Ridge hospital and clinic facility was built in the early 1960s and no longer fully meets the community's healthcare needs. The new facility will be approximately 53,000 square feet and will include 10 private rooms, an emergency department, operating room, imaging lab, pharmacy, clinic and support areas.

The facility will be fully handicap accessible and designed to improve the safety of patients and increase staff efficiency. It will be located on a 24-acre site.

"Since 2009, Rural Development has invested $75 million to build or improve critical access hospitals in Minnesota," said Colleen Landkamer, USDA Rural Development State Director. "Quality healthcare is essential to preserving the unique quality of life found in rural Minnesota. Hospitals are also a major job provider and economic development engine for our small towns."

Gene Wenstrom, chair of the Prairie Ridge Hospital Board stated "This is great news. I think I can understand how the people of this area felt in 1960 when they raised the money to build the present hospital. Then, like now, there were many people working together to reach the goal of a new hospital building. I would like to thank the Board members of Prairie Ridge, the hospital staff, especially our CEO Tom Kooiman, for their hard work."

Wenstrom continued " A special thank you should go to our three long time medical providers, Dr. Rapp, Marlene Wood, CFNP and Heather Reeve, PA-C . They all have worked very hard to bring quality health care to our patients. In conclusion Wenstrom said" Construction of the new hospital will start this month and we plan to be in the new building by January of 2014, weather permitting.

"The Hospital Board also appreciates the cooperation we have received from Mayor McNamar, the City Council and City Staff as we worked through the USDA application process."

Everyone is invited to a groundbreaking ceremony, southeast of the city garage on the south side of Highway 79 East, on Friday, October 12, with soup and sandwiches from 11:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. when ground will be broken. Seating will be available.