Hospital adds two partners

Twin Cities ‘Y,’ Ely ambulance service sign deals to pursue mega project

by Tom Coombe -

Ely-Bloomenson Community Hospital has added two new partners, including one from outside the area, as it proceeds with plans for a megaproject that could include two large structures and as much as $24 million in development.
Hospital officials announced Wednesday that both the Ely Area Ambulance Service and the YMCA of the Greater Twin Cities have each signed a memorandum of understanding to join EBCH and the Ely Regional Community Complex “to find solutions to fulfilling unmet health needs of the community.”
The announcement comes in the early planning stages of an initiative that has two components, totaling an estimated 80,000 square feet of development - presumably on the western edge of the current hospital campus.
In late-2018, EBCH announced the start of a facilities planning process and the exploration of a new building to accommodate additional hospital services, as well as an agreement with the ERCC to explore the development of a community recreation complex.
“It’s incredibly encouraging to know the YMCA and Ely Area Ambulance Service are joining the team,” said Michael Coyle, administrator and chief executive officer at the hospita. “This announcement brings this initiative to a whole new level of enthusiasm and commitment.”
According to a news release, the ambulance service has a separate agreement with EBCH while the YMCA is joining the hospital and the ERCC to look at a recreation complex that might include a pool, indoor track and other amenities.
The agreements in place, Coyle said “are simply to demonstrate interest among the parties and to create a framework for further discussion and study.”
Coyle contends that the addition of the YMCA brings a new array of possibilities, and that the shared vision is to add a new dimension of healthcare offerings to the community, while simultaneously supporting and complementing existing services in the area.
“We are so fortunate to live in a thriving community with an abundance of natural resources attracting new residents and visitors,” said Coyle. “We have a responsibility as health leaders to always seek ways to listen to the needs and expectations of our community, and to provide solutions. We welcome anyone who wants to discuss joining this movement,”
The YMCA of the Greater Twin Cities is a non-profit that touts dedication “to strengthening communities through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility.”
“We are excited to partner with the community to help provide programs and services to help everyone realize their potential,” said Anita Lancello Bydlon, chief real estate development officer for the YMCA of the Greater Twin Cities. “We look forward to discussing as part of the task force work what programs and services best meet the needs of youth, adults, families and seniors in the community.”
Despite $6 million in grant awards, the ERCC has stalled for over a year after efforts to locate the complex on the Ely school grounds failed to take hold.
The organization has since turned its attention to the hospital campus, finding common ground and now an additional partner.
“It’s been a dream for many years, and now with the support of so many community partners, that dream is becoming a reality,” said Jeff Sundell, who chairs the ERCC board. “It’s a wonderful time for Ely and the surrounding communities. Let’s keep it going and get this done.”
While no formal proposal has been advanced, earlier renderings of the ERCC showed plans for a facility as large as 40,000 square feet with space for a swimming pool, walking track, fitness area and other amenities.
After posting financial gains in 2018 including a sizeable increase in surgical procedures, hospital officials have spoken of expansion plans to include more services and efforts to keep more medical business in Ely and at the independent community hospital.
With the aid of Hibbing firm Architectural Resources Incorporated, EBCH is finalizing a master facility plan that will further define hew services EBCH would deliver in Ely.
A new facility would likely include space for the ambulance service, which has outgrown its space and is looking for a new facility.
“As we look at the goals of this effort, it’s a natural fit with our priorities at Ely Area Ambulance,” said Geoff Galaski, director of the ambulance service. “In many ways, it will be a health campus with a variety of services to help others get healthy, stay healthy and to care for them when they’re not healthy. We’re proud to be part of this inspiring project.” Galaski explains that because the effort is in the beginning stages, details are not available, but they will be shared with the community as soon as plans are solidified.
Coyle talked of the potential for up to $24 million in development to the west of the hospital’s current campus, with both the recreation complex and a hospital building as part of a project that would mesh with the city of Ely’s plans for a trail head at the western edge of town.