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TCHC's registration lobby to be overhauled Sept. 6-9

Tom Schroeder, an acoustical sealing installer with Central Suspensions of Alexandria, works on renovations to Tri-County Health Care in Wadena Tuesday. Work crews have a busy weekend ahead of them Sept. 6 as they1 / 2
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The builders attempting to complete renovations on the Tri-County Health Care campus in Wadena will face another intense stretch of construction work from Sept. 6-9 as they're slated to transform the hospital's registration space in four days.

The hospital's main (south) entrance will close after clinic hours end at about 6 p.m. that Friday evening and will reopen on Monday at 7 a.m. Hospital officials are asking visitors to use the north entrance instead during the closure.

TCHC Facilities Director Nate Hendrickson said that during the time when the main entrance is closed off, work crews will remove the temporary sheet rock wall put up at the beginning of the project near the south entrance and install floor tiling in the area.

Crews will head back to work after clinic hours end that Monday assist hospital registration staff and IT professionals in moving TCHC's entire registration setup to a temporary desk closer to the west end of the building in a space that's currently obscured by the temporary wall. Once registration is set up in the temporary space Tuesday morning, crews can start more long-term changes to the old registration desk that are geared towards making it larger and more patient-friendly.

TCHC CEO Joel Beiswenger said that overall project is about 60 percent complete and will be finished by the end of this year. He said that enough money had been saved during the renovation project to add a new stairwell into the plans, to be placed near the "bridge" overlooking the atrium by the hospital cafeteria .

Beiswenger said the upcoming final phase of construction will be the most disruptive to patients. He said although the construction will last only until the end of the year, hospitals can be stressful places to begin with, so TCHC staff will take special care to make sure the patient experience is as pleasant as possible under the circumstances.

"The next phase will be more challenging, and there will be more disruption of patient and traffic flow, so we hope our patients and our public will understand that inconvenience," Beiswenger said. "It's pretty short-lived...but there are people who, when they're here, they're under stress, usually we'll do everything we can to minimize the impact to our patients."

Other construction segments that are part of the $3 million renovation project are going well, Beiswenger said. The 16 new exam rooms being installed on the second floor are planned to be ready for use by Oct. 16, he said.

Crews are also about 85 percent done with a time-saving technology that's rare in rural hospitals, Hendrickson said. It's a network of pneumatic tubes that run in the ceilings and floors of the hospital and are designed to transport things like blood samples without someone having to deliver them by hand. The samples are secured in transparent canisters and shot through the tubes at speeds of about 25 feet per second using air pressure. The whole network is powered by one electric air compressor about the size of a copy machine in the basement of the hospital.