Riverwood breaks ground for Aitkin clinic expansion

Riverwood Healthcare Center is expanding once again. This time, the expansion--at a cost of about $14.9 million--will focus on the clinic campus in Aitkin.

Community members and Riverwood employees, board members and volunteers gathered for the groundbreaking ceremony. Submitted photo
Community members and Riverwood employees, board members and volunteers gathered for the groundbreaking ceremony. Click to view the entire photo. Submitted photo

Riverwood Healthcare Center is expanding once again. This time, the expansion-at a cost of about $14.9 million-will focus on the clinic campus in Aitkin.

Groundbreaking for the project took place July 17 with a program that drew about 100 people.

"This is an exciting day for all of us here at Riverwood," said Chad Cooper, Riverwood CEO, in a news release. "More importantly, this is a great day for the patients and communities we serve. It represents our commitment to providing access to quality health care as well as our pursuit of healthy communities."

Dr. Ben Parker, nephrologist with CentraCare Health who provides kidney care at Riverwood's specialty clinic, advised the dialysis center in Aitkin will become one of about 10 CentraCare operates in communities around central Minnesota. The number of kidney dialysis patients currently served by CentraCare totals about 500, with 50 getting home dialysis service.

"I'm happy to see kidney care come to Aitkin," Parker said in a news release. "The dialysis unit will be an incredible help to family members and friends who now need to drive loved ones to Brainerd or Duluth for dialysis. I commend Riverwood for moving forward with this project as well as those offering financial support."


Clinic expansion and renovation overview

The construction project is expected to last about 23 months, putting the tentative completion at spring 2019. The total square footage added on and remodeled as part of this project is 47,601 square feet-19,161 square feet is new and the rest is remodeled.

The key clinic changes will include:

• Renovation of space to offer comprehensive kidney care and a new kidney dialysis facility to be operated in partnership with CentraCare Health.

• Redesign of the specialty clinic, allowing for expansion of current service lines, including a new GI lab for the Minnesota Reflux & Heartburn Center.

• Renovation of the Aitkin primary care clinic will support a team-based approach, continuing to advance well-coordinated and patient-centered care.

• Relocation and expansion of the rehabilitation department, providing easier access for patients.

• Expansion of space to allow for growth in the orthopaedic department with easier access and additional imaging capabilities.


Capital campaign kick-off

The groundbreaking event marked the launch of Riverwood Foundation's Growing Together Capital Campaign to invite community support.

"Through our Growing Together campaign we will be seeking a minimum of $1.3 million to be contributed by individuals, families, businesses, civic groups, foundations and other sources," Katie Nelson stated in the release. "This community has a long history of providing generous support to Riverwood since the early 1950s. We are confident that individuals and organizations will once again rally around this important initiative."

U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar, who was unable to attend the groundbreaking, sent a representative from her Virginia regional office, Ida Rukavina, to convey her support for the project with a written statement: "Local dialysis options improve the quality of life of patients...and ensure residents can access care they require. Bringing this service to Riverwood Healthcare Center has required collaboration, planning and hard work, and I commend you for your efforts."

Healing Garden memorials

With the temporary closing of Riverwood's Healing Garden for construction the annual memorial ceremony was canceled. At the July 17 groundbreaking program, Shirley Callahan Winegar, vice chair of the Riverwood Foundation Board of Directors, read a list of 61 names of those honored or remembered in the garden during the past year. The garden will reopen in spring 2018.

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