New Hospital Breaking Ground In Rock Rapids


After nearly seven years of work, people in Rock Rapids, Iowa are celebrating a health milestone.

Officials broke ground on a new hospital today. 

“We’re going to allow each person here today to turn a shovel of dirt,” Merrill Pioneer Community Hospital Association president James Vander Woude said. 

At Rock Rapids’ new hospital, construction starts by the shovel. 

James Vander Woude gets to keep his.

“We’ll hang it in the new hospital somewhere…put it on display,”  Vander Woude said. 

Vander Woude is the president of the board of trustees for the Merrill Pioneer Community Hospital Association.

“Back in 2010, this property became available,”  Vander Woude said. 

“There were several community members who felt it was important we acquire the land for the future development of Rock Rapids,” Vander Woude said. 

The Merrill Pioneer Community Hospital Association owns the property. Avera Health will provide medical staff.

“We heard proposals from both Sanford and Avera, and after reviewing the proposals we determined Avera to be the most cost effective,” Vander Woude said. 

“Avera believes in building strong communities, and healthcare is an extremely important part of that,” Senior Vice President at Avera McKennan Hospital Curt Hohman said. 

Rock Rapids residents have been waiting.

“Oh god…has to be 10 years,” Rock Rapids resident Mick Edwards said. 

Mick Edwards says most people travel 45 minutes to Sioux Falls for health care. 

“The older generation shouldn’t have to travel that far to get health care,” Edwards said. 

City officials say today’s groundbreaking is just preperation..for the ribbon cutting in 2019. 

In order to meet that deadline…the people at today’s groundbreaking put down their shovels….and let the real construction crew take over. 

The hospital will have 10 inpatient beds and an outpatient clinic with 18  rooms. 
It’s expected to add around 90 jobs to the community. 

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