Altru to Replace Main Clinic After Structural Issue

After hundreds were forced to evacuate the clinic last week, Altru says it may be time rebuild

The Altru Main Clinic in Grand Forks will be replaced after a 16 inch beam in the building failed last week.

Officials say the process could take about two years.

A clinic built in the mid 1970’s is starting to show its age.

“We’ve made a determination that with safety in mind, we cannot, in good conscience, ask our patients and staff to go back into that building,” said Dave Molmen, CEO of Altru Health System.

The failed beam is affecting all four floors of the building.

Hundreds of patients and staff were immediately evacuated in less than 15 minutes.

Ken Vein says it is likely the building was not up to code when it was built.

“We need to evaluate that and we will a little bit down the line, but from what we’ve been told, that is questionable,” said Ken Vein, Altru administrative director of plant and facilities division.

Right now, they’re trying to find ways to use the resources they have to accommodate the hundreds of staff and patients who are now displaced.

The Chief Operating Officer says every department of the Main Clinic has already been temporarily relocated.

They’re planning short term renovations on their other facilities which may become permanent.

“I don’t want to give the impression that nothing will change in two years. I think our goal is that within two years, we’ve got everything settled into where it needs to be,” said Brad Wehe, Altru chief operating officer.

Molmen said the design components which caused the beam to fail are unique to the main clinic and are not in any other Altru facility.

Altru has not yet decided if they will take legal action.

Molmen said the building is insured but they do not know how much of the costs will be covered.

“We are very early in this process, but we think that transparency and keeping the community informed is very important, so the information that we have is literally hours old,” Molmen said.

Some of their equipment is still inside the clinic, but they have yet to retrieve it since only engineers are allowed inside.

For now, they say a temporary fix is keeping the problem from getting worse.

Altru has not picked a design firm to help build the new facility, and they do not know when construction will begin.

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