Construction is officially underway on the 33.8-million dollar expansion and renovation of River’s Edge Hospital and Clinic in Saint Peter.

Officials broke ground on Tuesday morning at the site that will see a major overhaul. Saint Peter received a USDA Rural Development loan for the project that will add new beds, operating rooms and a new entrance.

USDA State Director Brad Finstad says the project is needed and that economic development opportunities lie within a good healthcare system.

“We can’t be a bunch of communities of left out healthcare. You know we can’t tell our people, drive 50, 80, 100, 200 miles away to get those healthcare services and needs because it becomes a less attractive community to live in. So, for us here in Saint Peter to have this gem of a healthcare system with state-of-the-art medical treatment, state-of-the-art technology, that’s looking forward for the next 50 years.”

With a number of jobs being created by construction, River’s Edge CEO George Rohrich says they are currently evaluating how many new jobs will be created at the hospital by the expansion.

“We’re anticipating right now and evaluating somewhere within the hospital organization, adding eight to maybe as many as twenty full-time positions. Those big pieces where those people would work are not finished and won’t be finished until about a year, year-and-a-half from now. Just putting the final touches on that, but there is a lot of economic development.”

While construction is just getting underway, officials plan to open the new Emergency Department and Urgent Care facilities in June of 2019.

“So initially over the next year, we will do the new construction and that all happens near Sunrise Drive. They’ll be building the pads and putting down the concrete, the steel will be going up. That’s what you’ll see over the next number of months. Eventually, that’ll get closed in and through the winter they’ll be finishing up the new patient rooms and the Emergency Department.”

It’s anticipated the entire project will be completed by 2020.