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Cannon Falls makes health exchange

Chief Administrative Officer Bill Priest (center) joins Cathy Brekken, chair of the community campaign cabinet, to cut the blue ribbon celebrating the completion of the 92,000-square-foot medical center. Mayo Clinic funded the bulk of the $28 million project, but nearly a third was raised by the community. (Republican Eagle photo by Michael Brun)

CANNON FALLS — The community got its first look inside the new Mayo Clinic Health System facility it helped to fund.

The 92,000-square-foot medical center opened its doors at a ribbon cutting ceremony Friday, giving residents a chance to tour the three-level clinic and hospital complex before it goes operational next month.

“This was a tremendous example of collaboration between the city, county and our business,” said Dr. Robert Nesse, chief executive officer of Mayo Clinic Health System.

Mayo Clinic supplied $20 million of the building’s $28 million price tag, with the rest coming from local donations and levy dollars from the defunct Cannon Falls Hospital District. Staff also contributed more than $200,000 through a fundraising drive that surpassed its original goal.

Nesse said employees are “thrilled” about the finished product, and are now able to focus on the future of the practice instead of making due with an outdate facility.

The building, located off County Road 24 about a mile and a half south of the current site, will provide an around-the-clock emergency department, 24-room clinic and 15-bed hospital.

At more than three times the size of the old building, Mayo Clinic says the facility will mean expanded services and improved care quality. New technology also will allow staff to better collaborate with Mayo Clinic in Rochester and care centers in Red Wing and Lake City.

“(The old building) served us really well for a lot of years,” said Bill Priest, chief administrative officer of Mayo Clinic health System in Cannon Falls. “But health care has just evolved so much that we need a little more space to be able to do the work that we do.”

Construction on the building began in March 2013. It will replace the current Cannon Falls clinic which opened in 1958. At the time, it was the first hospital in the state to also have a nursing home.

A lot of thought went into the design of the new facility, Priest said. The process included touring other health centers around the region as well as bringing together a group of staff and community members for input.

One example of a design change is the use of 50 sliding doors throughout the building, which Priest said can save 3 to 4 feet of space each compared to a typical swinging door.

Priest described the overall flow of the building as a “front of the house, back of the house” concept that keeps staff offices and rooms behind the scenes and separate from the public entrance.

The layout also provides areas to add office space and hospital suites in the future.

“We tried to build into this facility in each of the floors room to grow and expand,” Priest said, adding the goal was to make the center work for today’s needs as well as needs 30 years from now.

The clinic will open for use Monday Aug. 4, with the hospital and emergency department going live on Aug. 7.

Michael Brun

Michael Brun joined RiverTown Multimedia at the Red Wing Republican Eagle in March 2013, covering county government, health and local events.  He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-River Falls journalism program.

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