|May 20, 2011 --
Access to quality healthcare received a major boost in Northeastern Minnesota on May 20. That’s when officials broke ground on a $24 million expansion project that will add over 80,000 square-feet to Community Memorial Hospital (CMH) in Cloquet, Minn.
During the ceremony, officials also highlighted how the project will create and save jobs in the region during the construction phase and once the expansion is finished.
About 300 local jobs are expected to be created during construction. CMH also employs about 400 people and contributes about $40 million annually to the regional economy.
“Projects like this put people to work and further our economic recovery efforts,” said Colleen Landkamer, USDA Rural Development State Director in Minnesota.
The project will expand in-patient rooms, intensive care, labor and delivery, and dietary and physician clinic space. Perhaps most importantly, the addition will add a dialysis unit, which was welcome news to the nearby Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa.
The tribe donated $200,000 toward the construction of the dialysis unit. No longer will tribal members, and other area residents, have to travel long distances to receive life-saving dialysis treatment.
“I tell ya it's going to be night and day what our current place looks like versus the care we're going to be able to give, the services we're going to be able to offer," said Rick Breuer, CMH CEO.
The Rural Development funding comes from a $15 million Community Facilities direct loan and a $9 million loan guarantee through AgStar Rural Capital Network. Rural Development and AgStar have partnered to finance major hospital expansions and renovations in Cloquet, Aitkin and Aurora over the last three months.
CMH is contributing about $3 million toward the project through a capital campaign.
CMH has been providing regional healthcare services in the Cloquet area since 1958. In 2004, Rural Development financed $10 million worth of renovations and upgrades to the facility.