Pandemic Prevents New Minnesota Healthcare Venue from Hosting Patients

By Eric Althoff

CALEDONIA, Minn.—New healthcare construction has been ramped up at several locations around the country as the United States continues to grapple with the coronavirus pandemic, but even with new healthcare facilities being completed, at least one isn’t yet open to patients. In sleepy Caledonia, which has a population of only a few thousand, the new downtown Hiawatha Valley Mental Health Center’s brand-new offices do not yet have staff working onsite during the pandemic.

According to WXOW, the new mental health center, which sits just down the street from the healthcare firm’s former offices, was completed in April, but as the worldwide virus pandemic has continued to rage, Hiawatha’s employees have continued to perform their consulting work from home rather than in person. This includes supporting patients dealing with both symptoms of the virus, as well as mental health emergencies entirely unrelated to the illness at all. Staff at Hiawatha have continued their work via video conferencing, by phone or other technology, WXOW reported.

According to the report, the new office space adds additional space for Hiawatha’s workers, as well as expands the services offered there to include substance abuse counseling, “life skills” instruction and better therapy options for children. The report said that the new building hosts five therapy offices as well as one designed specifically for telemedicine.

Furthermore, Hiawatha has said that staggered rooms will allow for a more tranquil patient experience. It is unknown if, when the facility does eventually begin accepting patients, the staggered room plan will also be utilized as an ongoing method of halting the spread of coronavirus, which has been especially virulent in healthcare settings where patients and caregivers continue to come into close contact.

However, the staggered room design also allows for more privacy, with Hiawatha’s representatives claiming that the distance between consultation rooms allows for better isolation, according to the report. The rooms are also soundproof, allowing for privacy between patients and their doctors.

Hiawatha Valley Mental Health Center operates five clinics in southeastern Minnesota, according to WXOW. According to the healthcare provider’s website, the company was founded in 1964 and has engaged in a specific focus on the importance of mental health since that time, particularly getting said care to people in their homes in rural areas.