Rio Grande Hospital breaks ground on expansion

DEL NORTE— The Rio Grande Hospital is on the brink of change as representatives from both the hospital and foundation board gathered for a groundbreaking ceremony on the morning of Nov. 14.

Since its 1996 inception, the Rio Grande Hospital has spent time renovating healthcare in the southwestern part of the Valley, building clinics in Creede, Del Norte and Monte Vista and staying as up to date as possible in the hospital. Now, with the help of a Community Facility Grant through the USDA, the hospital is breaking ground on an extension that will catapult them into the future.

Arlene Harms, CEO of the Rio Grande Hospital, started the celebration by telling the attending crowd what she was thankful for. “We are building this project in order to meet the needs of our people,” said Harms. She continued, stating that over the past 13 years, the board of directors have taken it upon themselves to ensure that the hospital not only survived, but that it would someday be renovated and expanded to meet the needs of a growing community. “We have such a rich legacy here and I am thankful to be a part of it. People said that this would never last and it began on a shoestring budget, but here we are.”

Harms invited the team from the USDA that helped her through the Community Facility Grant process and thanked them for their unwavering support. Newly appointed Rural Development State Director Sallie Clark took a moment to speak on behalf of the USDA, stating that in her second day as the new director, she was beyond pleased to be able to be a part of something as wonderful as the new hospital expansion project. “I am on my second day and I couldn’t have asked for a better way to spend it than to honor the team that did all of the work to make this possible,” stated Clark.

The project was funded through the combined efforts of the hospital board, who held several fundraising events throughout the last five years while planning for the expansion was underway and a low interest loan through the USDA to total the $20,840,000 project needed to get started. “This is what we do at the USDA and if you haven’t had a chance to visit our Alamosa office, I encourage everyone to come and meet our staff and look into the services we can provide,” finished Clark.

The extension and renovation of the hospital will include an additional building between the main hospital and the Rio Grande Hospital Clinic that will house a new physical therapy department, an expansion on the emergency room that will include a secure location where local law enforcement can bring inmates from the Rio Grande County Jail, a new wound care department that will have a Hyperbaric Chamber and the latest therapy for wound care and finally, the hospital will have room for new specialty clinics such as orthopedic, cardiology, ENT and specialty providers who visit regularly.

The project is estimated to take about a year until completion and will bring innovative healthcare to a community that is growing steadily. “I have never seen a community that has been more supportive and willing to help as the one here in Del Norte. The boards have continuously been in favor of supporting what this community needs,” finished Harms.

Caption: Local officials and hospital personnel gathered in front of the emergency room at the Rio Grande Hospital for a groundbreaking ceremony to celebrate the expansion and renovation of the current facility. Photo by Lyndsie Ferrell