URGED hears about Rio Grande Hospital housing project

DEL NORTE- Upper Rio Grande Economic Development members met for their monthly meeting via Zoom Tuesday, July 14, to hear a presentation about a potential housing project from Rio Grande Hospital CEO Arlene Harms.

Harms began her presentation stating that when she was invited to speak to the group she considered spending the time to update URGED about COVID-19 from a hospital perspective but decided to give an update on the project that came to a halt when COVID-19 hit the Valley.

Harms explained that the hospital is in need of housing for not only patients recovering or healing from illness or injuries but for visiting doctors and students as well. The project began to gain speed right around the time that the first COVID case was reported in the Valley and has since been placed on the back burner. “I was actually really excited to revisit this topic and it gives me hope that we can accomplish it in the near future,” said Harms.

The project would include four homes and a communal building that could be accessed by the public for many different reasons. The homes would be placed on a portion of land near the hospital that was donated by the Off family and would be used to house individuals in need of temporary homes while dealing with the hospital either as a patient, a student or as a medical professional.

“The homes will be universal, meaning that they could be used by a disabled person just as easily as a doctor that comes here to assist,” stated Harms. The homes are estimated to be about 600 square feet and will feature a kitchen, dining area/living room, bathroom, bedroom and anyone who stays there will have access to the communal building that will also be on-site.

According to Harms the communal building will have a large meeting space, communal area where the public can come to enjoy having coffee with friends, books to read and have a relaxing, calming atmosphere that promote health and wellness.

“One of our main goals is to promote health and wellness. We want room to offer education to the community on how to live a healthy lifestyle, learn to cook good food and offer a place to do things like yoga and other healthy activities.”

Though the project is still in the planning phase it is in the hospital and community’s future. Harms and a group of about 20 people, with help from Colorado State University, began planning for the project just before the COVID-19 pandemic stopped their planning.


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