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Coulee Medical Center ER and Walk-In Care

In pursuit of daycare: grain elevators

CMC consolidates land holding across highway


The grain storage units across the highway from Coulee Medical Center, in the background, now belong to it. - Scott Hunter photo

The local hospital has an acute need to provide daycare for its employees, a circumstance that has led to the purchase of nearby grain elevators.

Coulee Medical Center asked employees in a survey earlier this year about their need to find daycare for their children. Some 65 children of hospital employees would be served by a daycare if the hospital built one, concluded Chief Executive Officer Ramona Hicks.

So that's now one of her goals.

CMC has been successfully recruiting young professionals to its ranks, but that means accommodating you couples with kids.

When Hicks walks down the hall and encounters a pregnant employee, she feels the pressure.

CMC purchased land across SR-174 in 2012 with an eye toward using it for a community wellness center. The hospital also owns a utility building just to the north of that land

But between those parcels rises a set of unused grain elevators, which was still owned by HighLine Grain Growers, an agricultural cooperative based in Waterville.

Architects who worked up a preliminary design for a community wellness center for the site in 2015 cited as a local inspiration the bolted metal look of the grain storage units in their design.

"It still has that feel," said Hicks, who was recently relieved to find out the bins would not have to come down for the area to be developed. She said the zonings for the area are now in line with city requirements.

CMC negotiated purchase of the big grain bins from Highline, which shared in closing costs, Hicks said, for $76,000.

But she's still tackling obstacles on the path to development. Next up, an environmental inspection, she said.

Although a daycare could be an integral part of a community center, Hicks said a law prevents the hospital from providing that service to anyone but employees, so she's pursuing getting a daycare for hospital workers as soon as possible.

The land across the highway to Bridgeport is one piece of the puzzle.

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