Although this is a belt-tightening time for many healthcare systems, St. Paul, Minn.-based Healtheast Care System is letting its belt out a notch.
The system, which has two acute-care hospitals in the Minneapolis/St. Paul market, is adding a third to its roster.
Come August, it will open a 70-bed hospital on its new 30-acre Woodwinds Health Campus in Woodbury, Minn., a Twin Cities suburb.
Two years ago, Healtheast nixed plans to close its 292-bed St. Joseph's Hospital in St. Paul because of an unexpected increase in patient volume.
Healtheast's hospital is the first to be built in the fast-growing city of Woodbury, which is about 15 miles east of St. Paul. Woodbury's population has grown from 6,000 people in 1970 to about 45,000 residents today, Mayor Bill Hargis said.
Woodbury is in wealthy Washington County, where the per-capita income is $27,265, higher than both state and national averages, according to the most recent data from the Minnesota State Demographic Center.
Hargis said the new hospital will help attract other development to the city.
The hospital is a collaboration between Healtheast and the Twin Cities' Children's Hospitals and Clinics, which has hospitals in both St. Paul and Minneapolis.
Children's contributed $7 million to the $86 million project, money earmarked for the diagnostic and treatment areas of the new hospital.
"We're going to be where the children are," said Brock Nelson, chief executive officer of Children's.
To further cater to the area's young population, the hospital will have 16 birthing suites.
The Woodwinds campus also will include clinics, a complementary medicine center, an emergency department, an outpatient center and an outpatient rehabilitation center.
The health campus sits on 30 acres of land surrounded by wetlands. Parts of the health campus have been opening since January 1999.
Woodbury residents now travel to hospitals in the Twin Cities for care, said Julie Schmidt, CEO of the Woodwinds campus.
The only other hospital in Washington County is 25-bed Lakeview Hospital in Stillwater.
Schmidt acknowledges that the new hospital will steal some patients from Healtheast's other two acute-care hospitals, St. Joseph's and 150-bed St. John's Hospital in Maplewood, Minn.
But, she said, the number of patients diverted will be "limited."
"It won't hurt those other two hospitals," Schmidt said.