Valley Regional project hinges on approval of DH membership 

By PATRICK O’GRADY

Valley News Correspondent

Published: 07-28-2023 6:09 PM

CLAREMONT — Valley Regional Hospital is waiting for a decision on a proposed affiliation with Dartmouth Health before beginning construction on a planned 23,800-square-foot medical office building.

The Claremont hospital also will embark on a capital campaign to help fund the approximately $20 million project, which aims to bring together the hospital’s primary care services under one roof with orthopedics and other services.

“It will bring it all in a good, code-compliant, modern space that has the infrastructure we need, the electrical power, the data and everything you need in a facility that we just don’t have now,” said Alan Owens, senior director of facilities and support services for Valley Regional.

In June, the Claremont Planning Board unanimously approved the site plan for the medical office building with 35 exam rooms on Elm Street, across from the parking lot that serves the hospital’s emergency room and main entrances. The building would be constructed on three lots owned by the hospital. Demolition has been completed on one building, which was vacant.

“We can’t formally make a decision to proceed with the construction until we know the affiliation is approved or not,” Owens said. “We expect it will be but we want to be sure it is finalized.”

The affiliation is being reviewed by the New Hampshire attorney general, Owens added.

In addition to exam rooms and orthopedics, there will be an X-ray area, a common space and meeting rooms.

“It is going to be a consolidated location for all of these ancillary services,” Owens said, adding that the overall layout creates more space for patients and staff, something that became a recognized priority during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Currently, Owens said, the hospital’s primary care areas are in different parts of the hospital campus, including Associates of Medicine at the corner of Elm and Dunning streets, Valley Primary Care on Dunning Street and in the hospital. The orthopedics and cardiac rehabilitation are connected to the Associates in Medicine building but have an entrance on the opposite side.

“Our services are split between these two buildings and the hospital as well,” Owens said. “It is disjointed. What this all comes down to is that the two buildings we have are undersized for the number of visitors we have and the number of physicians. We are bursting at the seams.”

As an example, Owens said when the Associates of Medicine building was constructed in the mid-1980s, it was state-of-the-art, but that’s no longer true.

“Codes have changed so much for clearance and access and the size of room,” Owens said. “The technology in these rooms today is not what was required back then. The primary care buildings are small and old. You can’t even pass people in the corridors, they are so narrow. It is very congested.”

Owens said while the final cost is still being developed, he put the price tag at around $20 million or less. While bank financing will be part of the funding package, Owens also said the hospital will undertake a capital campaign and seek support from local donors.

“I think the money will be there from various sources, but this is a major undertaking,” he said. “We are confident we will be able to put the funding together for it, but it is going to take some time.”

The project will require merging the three lots owned by Valley Regional at 222, 224 and 228 Elm St.

Patrick O’Grady can be reached at pogclmt@gmail.com.