CCM Health partners with VA in new clinic project

Mike Milbrandt
CCM Health, in partnership with the Veterans Administration, will remodel and renovate this building to become the new Montevideo VA Clinic. Construction is expected to begin next spring.

CCM Health has announced that it is partnering with the Veterans Administration in remodeling a portion of the remaining former hospital to suit the needs of the VA. The building the Montevideo VA Clinic currently occupies is aging and in need of updating.

“The VA has been leasing space from us for close to 20 years,” said CCM Health CEO Brian Lovdahl. “They approach­ed us and said they needed a new space.”

The way the VA Clinic operates today is a far cry from how it operated 20 years ago. Technology has changed much when comes to caring for veterans, and the COVID-19 pandemic has left its mark as well on current day-to-day operations.

“Today’s VA clinics are designed differently,” Lovdahl said. “They are designed for different flow among staff and patients, and this allows them to see patients in a different way.”

As the VA is a part of the federal government, anything they do has to go through a process. Lovdahl said: “They were required to put out a notice for lease proposals, meaning they were seeking proposals from other entities as well as CCM Health.”

Over the years, the Montevideo VA Clinic has become a valuable asset for area veterans. “We, of course, want the VA to stay in this community; it provides jobs and quality care for our veterans. We wanted to keep them here,” said Lovdahl.

For the joint benefit of CCM Health and the community at large, it was very important to have the VA clinic remain a part of the CCM Health campus. Lovdahl said: “They utilize a lot of our services; They use us for radiology, for physical therapy, and for some lab services.”

As mentioned previously, any time work is done with the government, there is a process, and that process has to be followed to the letter. For CCM Health, that meant looking for a suitable space that would do what the VA was looking for.

“We started looking at ways to keep them here,” said Lovdahl. “We have one building which was part of the old hospital. It had been remodeled in the past, but now needs updating to meet the requirements of the VA.”

Once the space was decided on, CCM Health had to seek some professional advice. “We brought an architect on board to see how practical this project would be,” said Lovdahl. “There was a lot of work going behind the scenes because we essentially had to design a building prior to putting a proposal together for the VA.

“What they wanted was to look at a proposal and know what it was going to cost to move in. For us, we needed to know how much it was going to cost to build prior to developing a lease rate for the VA. So there was a lot of work that went into the proposal.”

According to Lovdahl, CCM Health wasn’t the only entity that submitted a proposal to the VA. He said: “I don’t know how many total places submitted proposals, but I know there were some places in Willmar that had put their name in the ring.”

Once CCM Health had a solid proposal, they presented it to the VA. “There was an initial vetting process whereby we had to notify the VA that we were interested in putting a proposal together,” Lovdahl said. “The VA came out and looked at the space which we were considering. They then narrowed their list down to five sites, and we were among them.”

After that, all CCM Health had to do was wait for the process to play out. “We were told by the VA at the end of August that we were chosen as their partner in this project. Since then, we got the architect on board and met with the VA to finalize what their floor plan would look like,” said Lovdahl.

CCM Health brought in J&D Construction to do cost modeling and determine what it is going to cost for renovation and remodeling of the building. They also came up with a schedule and timeline for construction.

The VA is responsible for $2.5 million of the project, while CCM Health will kick in $1,050,000 for a total cost of $3,550,000. CCM Health’s portion will be used for the shell and core of the building, while the VA’s portion will cover the costs of how they want the interior set up.

When finished, the VA would then lease the building at a rate of $297,891 a year for the first 10 years, then they could exercise an option to lease the building for another 10 years at $377,329 annually.

According to Lovdahl, the VA is looking at a move-in date of April of 2022. “Right now,” said Lovdahl, “it’s looking like the core and the shell work will start next March or April, and as far as the remodeling of the inside of the building goes, that is expected to begin next October or November.”

When done, the entire building will be utilized by the VA. “We used to have a couple of services located in that building. Hoem Health was there, but that was moved to the CCM Health Wellness Center. Currently we are using that space as a respiratory testing station,” Lovdahl said.

In addition, CCM Health’s diabetes program has been run out of there, as has the dialysis program. Lovdahl said: “We contract with a company called Davita for dialysis services, and that lease will be up next September. We had meetings with them and made some introductions with community members who could do some development for them. Those conversations are ongoing and Davita’s goal is to remain in town and provide a space suitable to allow for more patients.”

CCM Health is currently undecided on what it will do with the current VA clinic once the VA moves into the new building in 2022. “Whatever we do with it, it will need to be remodeled as well,” said Lovdahl.

According to Lovdahl, one possibility is using the building for a larger day care program for children of CCM Health employees. “Our current day care program has been very popular among our employees. We have over 20 kids there now. We may look at growing that program if we need to,” he said.

Another possibility for the building would be to remodel it as apartments. Lovdahl said: “We have a need for housing. We have traveling staff that come out here, whether they are physicians, therapists, or nurses. Instead of getting them motel rooms in town and tying those rooms up, they could stay in on-campus apartments.

“We also currently rent apartments in town for that purpose, so creating on-campus apartments would fill a need for us and help keep our costs down, and it would also open up apartments in the community.”

Keeping the VA clinic in Montevideo is great news for our area veterans and the community as a whole, as Lovdahl acknowledged: “It is important that the VA clinic stays here. So many of our veterans depend on their services, and having them be able to remain on the CCM Health campus makes it better for everyone!”