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The former Avera Clinic building, located at 508 10th St. in downtown Worthington, Minn., will be demolished to make way for potential expansion of Sanford Worthington Medical Center. Beth Rickers/Forum News Service

Sanford Health eyes expansion in Worthington

WORTHINGTON -- Sanford Health announced Wednesday that it has purchased the former Avera Clinic building in downtown Worthington. The building is adjacent to the Sanford Worthington Medical Center (SWMC)campus and was listed at $1.1 million.

"We've been working on the purchase of the building for the past four or five months now," said Mike Hammer, SWMC's CEO. "There are some needs in our ER department that I believe this building will fulfill."

Hammer explained the building site could be used for additional parking, the hospital's outreach programs and future emergency room expansion.

"This purchase is another example of how Sanford is investing and partnering in Worthington to do what is best for the community," Hammer said. "Purchasing this building was not in the plans, but we see this as an opportunity that will allow us to expand our campus and services for Worthington."

In its current state, the former clinic building has been deemed not suitable for health care purposes. Plans call for the building to be demolished to clear the way for new growth of the SWMC campus.

"We decided to demolish the building because it's just not a functional, suitable building, and when we looked at renovations, that became very expensive," Hammer said.

Hammer said a demolition date has not been set, and that it's too early to tell what the aesthetics of the building will be. But that eventuality provides the opportunity for much-needed expansion.

"It's an exciting opportunity, because where our building sits in the city we're sort of landlocked, so it gives us room to expand some of our programs," Hammer said.

Hammer also said the purchase of the building is not only a great opportunity for Sanford, but for the Worthington community as a whole.

"I think this brings value to the community, because that building could have been sitting there for years," Hammer said. "So we met a few mutual interests in purchasing the building, by letting us expand, and helping the community by not having a big empty building sitting there."

While there were several others interested in the building, Hammer said the ideas didn't seem to meet the community's needs.

"Several other organizations and groups had looked into purchasing the property, but those ideas didn't seem to fit," Hammer said. "I see this as an opportunity for Sanford to step up to create a space to benefit everyone in the Worthington community."

Now that the purchase of the former clinic is a done deal, the planning of the demolition is the next step in the process.

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