ST. PETER — River’s Edge Hospital and Clinic will break ground on its $33.8 million expansion Tuesday.

Hospital, city of St. Peter and U.S. Department of Agriculture representatives will be on hand for a ceremony to mark the occasion at the health center at 10:30 a.m. The city secured a loan from the federal agency to fund the project in March.

The expansion will increase the hospital’s patient beds from 17 to 25, renovate existing rooms and expand the surgery department, among other improvements. The project will be completed in phases with an expected finishing date in June 2020.

Stephanie Holden, River’s Edge’s chief marketing and development officer, said the project will allow the hospital to better serve its patient census.

“The majority of our patient beds are full on a day-to-day basis ... There are times when we will have to take a patient from the emergency department who may have to be admitted and transfer them elsewhere," she said. 

The hospital also will be able to explore adding services with the expanded space, said City Administrator Todd Prafke.

“We do anticipate this will be a platform for additional service providers,” he said.

The project represents a near doubling of the existing campus footprint. The health facility will expand its lab, pharmacy and surgical departments, renovate its outpatient physical and occupational therapy center, build a cafeteria, and create a new entrance on the east side rather than the separate hospital and emergency room entrances now.

Holden said the construction shouldn't impact patients, and services won't need to stop during construction phases. 

“There will be minimal disruption to patient care,” she said.

The hospital will schedule open houses once it completes portions of the expansion. The first will be this fall when the occupational and physical therapy department finishes. Holden said the folks at the hospital are eager for the project to start. 

“It’s extremely exciting," she said. "It’s been kind of surreal to see the construction equipment here."

Follow Brian Arola @BrianArolaMFP.

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