Work on building RiverView’s new 80,000 square foot hospital has progressed rapidly throughout the summer.  With demolition complete, concrete has been getting poured into the foundation for several weeks. Steel construction is set to begin on Monday according to Jason Toso, construction manager for Mortenson Construction.  “On April 29 we got started with groundbreaking and getting the building demolition ready,” said Toso.  “It took about five weeks to ensure that the existing structure was mechanically and electrically safe to begin tearing down.  About five weeks later, we tore the building down.  That led to general building items and concrete construction.  Now as we are progressing, we’re gearing up for some concrete curb and gutter.  And our structural steel construction is set to begin on Monday, August 5.”

The final piece of steel that will get installed will be on display in the RiverView lobby before it’s put in place in a ceremony called “topping out”.  Toso said there are currently about 20-25 tradesmen working on the project, approximately half of those being local tradesmen. Both numbers of tradesmen should grow inside with the start of steel construction.  “Right now we’re running 20-25 [tradesmen] daily,” said Toso.   “Once we get going with steel construction we’re expecting that number to double if not more from there as we take on additional trades partners.  Right now, about half the individuals live within a 60-mile radius of the site.  There is a considerable effort going into the construction of this new hospital that is provided from right here in the Crookston area.  And we only expect to see that number to grow as additional trade partners come on site.”

RiverView CEO Carrie Michalski said RiverView has been able to lower the amount of money in their contingency fund because of how well demolition went without any surprises.  And she adds that RiverView is very happy with their selection of Mortenson Construction.  “We just could not be more pleased with the selection we made with construction management,” said Michalski. “They have been fantastic to work with in terms of communication.  We are on time and on budget, which is two of our key goals.  And they share a passion for safety as well.  We’ve had a very safe worksite. We’re 65 days into the job with no work-related injuries on the construction site.  We’ve gotten through some of the challenging phases of the work with demolition while maintaining an active hospital, treating patients and having our memory care center.  It was very delicate work, and being through that phase successfully is a celebration. We have reduced some of the risks that can come with unanticipated construction costs.  Things that you would discover when taking down an old building.  It’s nice to have that in the rearview mirror and have gotten through that so well.”

Barring delays, construction would be complete in July 2020, and open in November before other renovation projects are started according to Michalski. “Mortenson should be substantially done with construction in July 2020,” said Michalski.  “We’ll spend 3-4 months getting all of the equipment installed. And getting our staff trained and be prepared to see our first patients we anticipate in mid-November.  Then we have some other projects that couldn’t happen during this phase because they are renovations to other areas of our building.  We want to relocate our pharmacy to get them out of that 1951 building.  Looking into the future, ideally, a large part of that building would come down to lower our operating costs.  So our pharmacy will be in space that is currently the Orthopaedic clinic area of our hospital.  That will be renovated after we open this new section of our building.  And after that, we will be looking at our laboratory.  That is the other key clinical service that’s in an area of our building that is older.  We’d like to bring them closer to the center of patient care that happens with this new building and have more options to decommission areas of our older building over time.”