HJ/EDJuly 3, 2006

New building to be constructed for Dassel Medical Center

By Lynda Jensen

Years of searching for the right location culminated Tuesday as Hutchinson Area Health Care announced its intentions to build a new structure for the existing Dassel Medical Center.

The Dassel Medical Center will move from its existing location along Fourth Street to a new building that will be constructed along Highway 12, just west of Thistlerose Tea Shoppe.

The clinic, which has been located at the Fourth Street location for more than a decade, will feature additional square footage and access to a full-time physician as well as supplemental staffing, commented Phil Graves, president of Hutchinson Area Health Care.

The land – four lots owned by Miller Manufacturing – was sold for the purchase price of $175,000, with the City of Hutchinson approving the sale Tuesday.

The hospital was happy to see the Miller site become available, since it had been searching for quite some time for a new location, Graves said.

Previously, the board had been in contact with other prospects, including the location at Highways 12 and 15, before it became the future home of the ice arena, Graves said.

“We have been looking for the past four or five years,” he said.

Peterson Pharmacy plans to stay put

Although the hospital board invited pharmacist Mike Sylvester of Peterson Drug to move along with them, he has opted to stay put, Sylvester said.

He himself has no desire to move into the new building, since he already owns his half of the current clinic building and would be required to lease space in the new one, he said.

At the age of 64, retirement isn’t an option for him yet, he said, since he likes to stay busy. “I’d go bonkers,” he added.

Even if he did retire, he would probably end up being a pharmacist part time somewhere else, he said.

It can be a problem to find a substitute when he goes on vacation, he noted. In the past, the Keavenys in Cokato have helped him out to make his vacation possible.

The plans for a Super Wal-Mart in Litchfield worry him “a little bit,” Sylvester said.

That’s just how things are nowadays, he said. “People like to one-stop shop,” he said.

The other half of the building is owned by Hutchinson Area Health Care, Sylvester said.

“We will continue to work with Mike Sylvester,” Graves said.

There may be an automated pharmaceutical machine put into place down the road, he added.

Rooted in the community

The Dassel Medical Center got established in 1987 when Dr. Joseph Houts asked the Hutchinson Area Health Care board if it was interested in buying his Dassel practice.

“After considering, we said yes we would,” Graves said.

From that time, others worked to obtain rural health clinic status, which is a government classification that is important to how a clinic is funded.

Eleven years ago, Trish Olson, PA-C was brought on board and remains there today as a familiar face of the clinic staff.

Michael Long joined in 2003 as a full time physician’s assistant.

In addition, Dr. Timothy Remple also serves the clinic on a scheduled basis.

“Our primary purpose is to meet the medical needs of people in the Dassel service area,” Graves said. “It’s an extremely important area.”

“Quality of care is our ultimate goal,” commented Cary Linder, president of the Hutchinson Area Health Care Foundation.

What’s next?

If construction goes according to schedule, the new clinic building could be open by late fall, Graves said. The target date to open is Nov. 1, he said.

There is a 90-day window of construction that is expected to start soon.

The building will be done in such a way as to ensure future expansion, he said.

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