No. 3 on the top five stories of 2017 - St. Charles Madras improves out patient, primary care.

HOLLY GILL/MADRAS PIONEER - The new galleria entrance at St. Charles Madras.Coming in at No. 3 on the list of top stories for 2017 is the recently completed $16 million renovation and expansion of St. Charles Madras, which has been underway for the past two years.

The third and final phase of the project included the hospital's new "galleria" entrance on the east side, which ties together the new and old areas of the hospital.

The galleria includes the greeter's desk and centralized registration area for all hospital services, as well as waiting areas and restrooms. The new areas are decorated with artwork by local artist Paul Lanquist, which features recognizable people and places from Jefferson County's past and present.

"We're excited to have it done," said John Bishop, president and CEO. "It's been a long haul."

The project, to improve outpatient and primary care services, added about 26,000 square feet to the facility, which is now about 82,168 square feet.

The first phase included design, permitting, groundwork, underground utilities and moving the maintenance building, while the second phase included the new space for the expanded emergency department, operating rooms, and radiology department.

"This is a complex project," said Bishop. "It's more complex to do additions and renovations. It was phased to allow us to continue operations during the construction period."

"The largest need we fulfilled was in our emergency department," he said. "That space exceeded capacity on a regular basis. The new space will allow us to meet the demand of the community for the next several years. We can handle a lot more volume than we currently have." The hospital receives just under 14,000 emergency room visits per year.

"It's a community asset the community can be proud of, that adds a lot of value to the community," said Bishop. "People living in rural areas can feel confident that they have the best facilities and equipment to stabilize and treat their medical conditions."

St. Charles Madras will hold a ribbon-cutting Friday, Jan. 12, at 8 a.m.

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