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Old St. Joseph's could open its doors as soon as April 1st

St. Joseph's Hospital was officially purchased by Andres "Andy" Mejia this week, who plans to rent the space to behavioral health and other miscellaneous businesses. Reed Rayman, president of CHI St. Alexius, which owned St. Joseph's, said he's h...

St. Joseph's Hospital has been purchased and renamed St. Joe's Plaza. (Kayla Henson / The Dickinson Press)
St. Joseph's Hospital has been purchased and renamed St. Joe's Plaza. (Kayla Henson / The Dickinson Press)

St. Joseph's Hospital was officially purchased by Andres "Andy" Mejia this week, who plans to rent the space to behavioral health and other miscellaneous businesses.

Reed Rayman, president of CHI St. Alexius, which owned St. Joseph's, said he's happy Mejia bought the building and hasn't stopped smiling since he signed the paperwork.

"The biggest thing for us is making sure from the Sisters that it continues to have a value and a purpose in the community, because that's why they came (to Dickinson)," he said. "We were always worried that it would sit there and just be empty. The last thing we want to do is have to tear it down because it's got such a long history and a legacy."

Rayman said CHI had been trying to sell the building that was its previous location since it opened the new hospital in 2014. Two separate deals fell through.

"They weren't community investors," he said. "I think it was during the height of the oil boom and a lot of people were trying to turn property for high dollar. Honestly, I was disappointed that it didn't sell, but looking back, I was happy it didn't. I'm afraid it wouldn't have been the best interest of the community."

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Now, Rayman said, he believes the property-- rebranded St. Joe's Plaza-is in the right hands. Mejia, who has worked for CHI for 15 years, wants to use the building to bring more behavioral health services to the area. He said that yearly surveys indicate that it has been a main need in the community for years.

"Members of our community (are) having to go and look for those services ... the closest being Jamestown, Bismarck, Fargo," Mejia said. "With the increased size of the community in North Dakota as a whole, there are not enough services. We have our customers that continue to go out of state. Sometimes you have to come back without any services."

He wants to have both outpatient and inpatient services available-a wish he shares with Rayman.

"The original idea was if you could get all the state, county and city social services, mental health services under one roof, that would have been nice. Now he has the potential to do that," Rayman said.

Rayman said Mejia, as an independent owner, isn't bound by the same federal rules that CHI is, and that will make it easier for him to rent the building.

Right now, Rayman said their best bet for bringing behavioral health services to Dickinson is Prairie St. John's, but it is waiting for action by the legislature. Mejia said if that does not work out, they will continue to work with the legislature and the state to find options.

"The North Dakota State Hospital, as we know, pretty much is up to capacity every week. ... I hope that our representatives really take a look at this opportunity that we have," he said.

Even if the deal with Prairie St. John's is made, the 200,000 square-foot hospital will still have space available to rent.

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"Even if they were to come, as big as they are, they would probably (only) fill one floor," Rayman said.

Mejia said he welcomes other types of businesses to rent, as well. He has three potential tenants so far, and pending city paperwork, the rechristened St. Joe's Plaza will open its doors April 1st.

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