DEL NORTE — On Tuesday, Aug. 10, the Rio Grande Hospital hosted the Upper Rio Grande Economic Development meeting. RGH CEO Arlene Harms was the keynote speaker for the morning presentation.
Harms walked attendees through Rio Grande Hospital's plans and what it will mean for the community to have a Wellness Village on site.
Whispers of the plans for a Wellness Village have been circulating for a few months, gaining curiosity from the general public and private organizations alike. During the meeting on Tuesday, Harms explained what the hospital is hoping to do by the fall of 2022.
“The hospital has four houses in the area that we are renting, and they are constantly in use," Harms said. “We are usually housing patients that have to be here for five to eight weeks or we house residents that come from places like Grand Junction to work and experience rural medicine and we oftentimes bring in temporary professionals as well as family that have loved ones here. It started driving me crazy that we didn’t have a way to house them here especially for families. I wanted to have more access for people to be able to stay so we talked about our current need.”
Harms added that during this initial conversation, it was also discussed that the hospital needed more room to meet with staff and employees as well as the community during times like they experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The other thing was, we didn’t have a very big meeting room for the community to gather or my staff to gather," Harms said. "During COVID, I had nowhere where we could get all of our employees together for a meeting and to get them caught up.”
The proposed Wellness Village will be built on land donated to the hospital by the Off family and will include four to six homes that will be about 750 square feet as well as about four RV hookup locations. In addition to the homes and RV spots, the hospital will also be building a Wellness Center that will house a kitchen for healthy cooking classes, exercise programs, private meditation rooms, a large community conference room and more.
“Our hope is to focus on health and wellness and just getting people better,” Harms said.
The preliminary plans will be presented to the public during the hospital’s community event this weekend from 2 to 5 p.m. behind the hospital. There will be food and refreshments and the public is invited to attend. A formal presentation will take place at 3 p.m.
It is estimated that the new Wellness Center will cost about $5.5 million and according to Harms some of the money has already been set aside and donated. The hospital plans to break ground in the spring of 2022 and be finished by the fall.
In addition to the new Wellness Center, the hospital also announced that they will be building a new clinic in South Fork that will now have a full-time physician. The new clinic will break ground this fall and be finished before the end of the year as long as the weather holds out. The new clinic will be near the Old Firehouse Restaurant just east of town. More details will be reported as they come available.