Years of planning culminated Thursday in a joyous groundbreaking ceremony for the Pine Healthcare Campus in Sandstone. The joint project involves Essentia Health, the North Pine Area Hospital District, Gateway Family Health Clinic and Thrifty White Pharmacy.
Essentia Health East Region President Dr. Daniel Nikcevich speaks Thursday at the groundbreaking ceremony for the Pine Healthcare Campus in Sandstone. Click here for WDIO-TV’s coverage of the event.
The campus will be constructed on a 40-acre site that was once home to the former Sandstone Airport. The first phase will include a hospital, therapy center, clinic and pharmacy under one roof, and an adjoining senior care facility. It is expected to be completed by April 2017.
Leaders from the partnering entities, donning white hardhats, grabbed golden shovels adorned with big red bows and tossed dirt to mark the beginning of the project as more than 100 people watched and clapped.
“It’s a real pleasure to represent Essentia Health and for us to be a part of this project, which this community needs so desperately,” said Dr. Daniel Nikcevich, president of Essentia’s East Region, during a pre-groundbreaking speech in a heated tent at the site. “It is a real privilege to serve the patients of this community.”
Wilma Township Chairperson Glen Williamson (left) and his wife, Toni, attended Thursday’s groundbreaking.
One of those community members, Glen Williamson, chairman of nearby Wilma Township, shared his enthusiasm for the project.
“It’s nice to see Essentia Health is investing in the community,” he said. “It’s not a big hospital, but it will ensure area residents don’t have to travel far to receive care.”
Several other leaders spoke during Thursday’s ceremony, including CEO of Thrifty White Pharmacy Bob Narveson, Gateway Family Health Clinic’s Eric Nielsen and Ron Osladil, chairman of the North Pine Area Hospital District Board. “It’s a beautiful day, a wonderful day. Nothing can dampen it for me,” Osladil said.
Michael Hedrix, vice president of business development and administrator of Essentia Health-Sandstone, was one of 13 people who lifted shovels for the groundbreaking. “We’ve hit this point where we’ve assembled all of the pieces, and after all of the hours of planning, it is all being expressed through this new healthcare model. We’re all partners gathered on one campus to serve this region,” he said after the ceremony.
Essentia Health-Sandstone staff members Debbie Ward (from left) and Joe Newton, along with Rob Devin from Essentia Health-Deer River, look over architect’s renderings for the Pine Healthcare Campus.
Joe Scheeler, who lives in nearby Askov and is a retired property operations manager for Essentia Health-Sandstone, said he worked for the health system for 20 years and is very pleased with the Pine Healthcare Campus project.
“I like the scope of it and the plans,” Scheeler said. “I’m very impressed by all that the hospital board has done, and I appreciate the contributions Essentia has made to the whole program. This is a tremendous effort by a lot of people.”
Sandstone resident Mary Ann Lundorff came out for the groundbreaking as well. She was bundled up in a warm coat as she sipped hot chocolate provided by the event organizers. “I’ve been so excited about us getting this new hospital. I belong to the auxiliary and we’re so much looking forward to it,” she said. “I think it’s wonderful. I’ve spent a lot of time at the hospital with my family, and we’ve received wonderful care there, and the doctors are great.”
Thirteen people wielded golden shovels with red bows to break ground Thursday in Sandstone.