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Vision of new hospital in Dickinson gets clearer

St. Joseph's Hospital officials are putting together a plan to build a new hospital on 40 acres in west Dickinson that was purchased by Catholic Health Initiatives, which owns the hospital, in July 2010.

The hospital is recruiting and has begun interviews for nine new primary care positions, said St. Joseph's CEO Reed Reyman.

He expects to break ground on the new facility in three to four years.

"The timeline is not as much a focus as the process, because we don't want to hurry it along," he said.

Floor plans have not been drawn up, but a new hospital will likely be one or two stories and less square footage than the existing facility, which is 180,000 square feet.

"Care has changed in the last 20 years from being inpatient to outpatient care," Reyman said. "So our surgery area, our radiology area, our emergency department, all those areas really need to be larger."

There will be less emphasis on patient room space and more emphasis on outpatient procedures, he said. Having less space between patients will help staff deliver services more efficiently, Reyman said.

However, less space doesn't mean fewer services, said Mike Lefor, St. Joseph's Hospital Board chairman.

"This will definitely enhance what we're doing here," he said.

A master facility plan and program is being put together, which will outline areas including size and equipment needs, Reyman said.

"Over the next three years this master facility plan I'm sure will be just ongoing," he said. "Everyday now with the way things are changing -- the landscape, the demographics -- we're finding that our needs are changing."

Patient volume changes may shape portions of the hospital.

"We have a significant amount of trauma now that's coming through our emergency department and we may change the makeup of what we originally thought our emergency area would look like," Reyman said. "It may even be larger than we thought it would be before."

Dickinson Mayor Dennis Johnson, who has been encouraging hospital officials to move the project along, is excited plans are forming.

"I think it will be able to provide more care and improve quality care to the community," Johnson said. "One of the big things I see is it will make the hospital more competitive in the recruitment and the retention of health care professionals and that will be good for the community."

Lefor said he didn't think the project would be moving forward as quickly as it has, but that it is the right time to build.

"For the last three years we have performed well financially and that has strengthened our case to be put on the capital projects list for a replacement hospital," Lefor said.

Discussions about what to do with the existing facility have begun, but no decisions have been made, Reyman said.

"We've had several developers already tour the building," Reyman said. "There's a multitude of options out there for it, but this building will be used for another purpose to benefit the community of Dickinson."

St. Joseph's will be holding community input forums to gather ideas from Dickinson and surrounding areas.

Reyman said the forums will make sure "what we're building as a hospital is going to equate to what our service needs are in the community. That's the most important thing."

Officials will take input on the plan:

- Monday, Killdeer City Park during a barbecue from 10 a.m. 3 p.m.

- Tuesday, Ramada, Dickinson from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.

- Thursday, Beach Pool Park during a barbecue from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

- Thursday, Beach Ambulance Services from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.

- Tuesday, Aug. 30, Ramada in Dickinson from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.

r Sept. 1 in Belfield (time and location to be determined).