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Published February 17, 2012, 03:25 PM

Altru Plans Major Expansion, Purchases Doctors Hospital

GRAND FORKS (WDAZ-TV) - Less than two weeks before the planned opening for Doctors Hospital, Altru Health System has purchased it.

By: WDAZ Staff Report, WDAZ

GRAND FORKS (WDAZ-TV) - Less than two weeks before the planned opening for Doctors Hospital, Altru Health System has purchased it.

Altru also announced its plans to expand to the space on South Washington Street.

The 65-bed facility is now a thing of the past, before it even opened.

The announcement was made shortly after 2 p.m. Friday and Doctors Hospital employees were told to have all of their belongings cleared out just three hours later.

In the next decade, The 40-year-old buildings at Altru will be getting a facelift as part of a massive expansion, one leaders say is prompted by demand.

"After an unprecedented growth in our medical group, Altru Health System is announcing today a major expansion," Altru CEO Dave Molmen said.

"We feel that this will really help us as we grow and develop over the next several years," Altru President Casey Ryan said.

That growth includes adding more than 40 physicians since 2011. The plan, finalized last march, includes a complete renovation of the Columbia Road campus and more.

"We'll also include the acquisition of property on the south end of Grand Forks that is owned by the Aurora group," Molmen said.

That property includes the clinic, strip mall and Doctors Hospital. This will relieve congestion at the Columbia campus and allow Altru to continue to serve patients during construction. This isn't the first time Altru has considered moving into Aurora Medical Park.

"In late 2010, we were approached by representatives of the owners of facilities on Aurora med park to see if we would be interested in acquiring those facilities and we took a look at them over a year ago and because we hadn't completed our planning at that time, we just didn't know how we would make use of them and so we declined to make an offer for the facilities at that time," Altru Chief Planning Executive Dennis Reisnour said.

But now, with just weeks before the opening of Doctors Hospital, the time was right for Altru.

Officials approached the Aurora group late last year and purchased the space for an undisclosed amount.

Altru plans to start seeing patients at the old Doctors Hospital location as early as this spring.

Now, Altru needs to fill nearly 150 positions. The hospital plans to hold a recruitment fair for staff who may have been displaced by the former owners of Doctors Hospital.

"The agreement is with Aurora owners, not with Doctors Hospital or any physicians that have their practice in those buildings," Ryan said.

Officials and workers with doctors hospital refused to comment Friday.

Altru's plans aren't completely finished, but officials say it will likely have primary care services and a walk-in clinic at the Aurora Medical Park.