Big building on campus: Memorial Regional Health commemorates new structure
Roughly 18 months after first breaking ground on its new medical office building, Memorial Regional Health welcomed community members, officials and folks from across the state to officially dedicate the new structure.
The Thursday afternoon ceremony marked the big unveiling of the project that has been underway for the better part of two years, as MRH commenced an official dedication from the Grand Lodge of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons of Colorado and Rio Blanco Lodge #80.
A full Mason ceremony hosted by members of the organization from across Colorado was headed by Grand Master Ralph Newby and associates, which included certifying the building’s cornerstone.
The decorative piece, bearing the date of dedication and Mason insignia, was preceded in placement by a time capsule to commemorate the work that went into the new building, including the Board of Trustees’ list and resolutions that led to the project, board of directors for MRH Foundation, MRH Living Well magazines, advice from the past, a letter to the future, photos of area residents, an Oct. 2 copy of Craig Press with the hospital’s announcement of the ceremony, and more.
Andy Daniels, CEO of Memorial Regional Health, noted that a time capsule from the hospital’s original Russell Street site, dedicated in 1949, had contents that were a little less surprising than they’d hoped.
That inspired MRH staff to put together multiple capsules, the locations of which they won’t be divulging anytime soon.
“We buried a box with some other items on this campus, and it will have to wait about 40 years before you find out where it is and what’s in it,” Daniels said. “To the future, we didn’t make the same mistake as the past.”
MRH staff will be relocating from the former building to the new site in the coming week, with the new building providing 60,000 square feet and three stories worth of space.
Cathrine Blevins, chair of the MRH Board of Trustees, said she was especially pleased that the new structure will be able to better house the staff of the medical organization.
“I remember when I first joined the board, I was asked to come to the clinic downtown to see some of the issues,” she said. “We saw people working out of closets, we saw people working in cramped spaces, we saw waiting and patient rooms that were fit for two people to sleep in because it used to be a hospital room, and our patients had to deal with some of these issues.”
Blevins thanked the patience of patients and staff alike as the new building came to fruition.
While Dr. Larry Kipe will remain at his clinic at 600 Russell St. and the MRH Rapid Care will also remain in operations off the campus, the majority of hospital services will now operate at 750 Hospital Loop, including pharmacy services complete with drive-thru, an updated infusion clinic, increased parking, and enhanced space for departments such as general surgery, family practice, cardiology, physical and occupational therapy and more.
In the entrance, a donor tree for the building honors the many area individuals and businesses that aided in funding the construction of the multi-million dollar effort.
Funding from United States Department of Agriculture was also crucial, with Sallie Clark, Colorado State Director of USDA Rural Development, speaking during the ceremony and leading up to the ribbon-cutting.
“Memorial Regional Health is so important to this community,” Clark said. “When I travel all over the state of Colorado, the biggest thing that comes to mind is about being here for local communities to have good services. Part of that is the hospital itself, knowing that you have a grocery store, the general support services for communities and to have safety and security, not only across Colorado but across the nation.”
She added that she has received feedback from community members about the role the hospital and its staff members play in daily lives.
“As I was checking into my hotel, the clerk at the front desk said that her husband had had a medical incident, and she was so happy to have you all here,” Clark said. “You’re impacting the people who live and work in the community as well as those of us who might be visiting up to your area.”