Groundbreaking ceremony held for new hospital
By Daniel Arens
Although site work has already been underway for the last two months, an official groundbreaking ceremony for the new Sakakawea Medical Center (SMC) was held Oct. 14.
The warm October day provided a great setting for recognition of the newest development in medical care for the community of Hazen and surrounding region. The celebration brought in a diverse number of residents, business leaders, and government officials, and the joyous celebration was also tinted with a flare of humor.
“We’re super excited to be standing on this pile of dirt to get us out of the flood zone,” SMC Board of Directors President Christie Obenauer said in opening the ceremony, which took place on uneven rough patches of dirt. The venue showcased progress already made in laying the groundwork for the new hospital.
Obenauer said that this is the largest project of its kind in Mercer County for a long time, quoting the adage that “the best things are worth waiting for, fighting for, believing in.”
Obenauer thanked numerous people who have contributed to the work with the new hospital, including board members and capital campaign co-chairs, Harvey Huber and Clayton Hoffman.
Although they had retired from the board, Huber and Hoffman agreed to manage the collection of donations and other revenue sources for the hospital project. They have raised $2.9 million, while a further $1.3 million in requests have been solicited. Altogether, the capital campaign has a projected goal of raising roughly $4.1 million.
Money has come from a wide variety of sources, including the hospital foundation, the public sector, private businesses, the energy industry, and from employees.
SMC CEO Darrold Bertsch also thanked the board, staff, and medical providers for their work, while pointing out the interconnectedness and working relationship between SMC, Coal Country Community Health Center, Beulah, the Mercer County Ambulance Service, and Custer Health.
Bertsch spoke highly of The Neenan Company, an integrated firm that is providing both the engineering and construction of the new hospital. The interaction between Neenan and SMC hospital staff and medical providers has been very positive.