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SLVH Launches Milestone Renovation Project

breaking ground

Photo by Donne Wehe, Director of Communications, SLVH The atmosphere was festive in launching a project that will meet a long-term goal. Pictured left to right: Ryan Kessinger – Contractor, GH Phipps; Jeremy Gonzales, SLVH, Director of Facilities; Crestina Martinez, USDA State Director of Rural Development; Steve Watkins, Contractor, GH Phipps; Konnie Martin, CEO SLV Health; Tim Agnew, SLVH Project Manager, and Karla Hardesty, SLVH Board of Trustees, Chair.

CEO Konnie Martin: ‘A significant change that our patients deserve’

ALAMOSA — With the help of a $1 million grant from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), San Luis Valley Health (SLVH) will be renovating a permanent structure to create five private rooms in an area of the hospital named “Three South.”

“The total project budget is about $3.1 million,” SLVH CEO Konnie Martin told the celebratory crowd of supporters who filled the lobby of the San Luis Valley Regional Medical Center last Wednesday. “Without this foundational funding from the USDA – a key piece in making this project happen - it would not have been possible for us to have achieved such a significant change.”

In a nod to the USDA directors who were present for the announcement, Martin added, “I also want to acknowledge how special it is to celebrate this accomplishment with USDA leaders, one former (Armando Valdez) and one current (Crestina Valdez), who are also are known to us as friends and neighbors.”

The project will not increase the numbers of in-patient beds at SLVH, but will, instead, renovate existing space to create the private rooms that can accommodate the need for isolation, when needed. The rooms will also be updated to meet current standards of care, will have an up-to-date healing aesthetic and, of course, provide patient privacy.

Although the idea of the renovation has been a long-standing goal for SLVH, the possibility of it becoming a reality dates back almost three years to 2021 when the USDA announced Recovery Grant Funding was available.

But the situation that created SLVH’s undeniable need for renovation preceded the grant even being made public.

“In 2021, during the pandemic, RMC (SLV Regional Medical Center) was the only facility in this south-central region of the state accepting positive COVID patients,” Martin told the group. “Conejos County Hospital and Rio Grande Hospital provided care to less acute patients and patients recovering from COVID.

“At the time we wrote the grant, we were averaging 22 patients a day - bed placement for patients presented significant challenges, both for patients with and without COVID. We were also getting calls from other areas of the state - and even out-of-state - who didn’t have beds available for COVID patients who needed them.

“And RMC’s hospital rooms are semi-private and over-crowded with medical equipment, entering and exiting staff, bathrooms that don’t meet ADA requirements, and lack patient privacy.”

When the grant was made public, its goals - supporting immediate health care needs, helping to prepare for a future pandemic, increasing access to quality health care services and improving community outcomes – seemed tailormade for SLVH, and an application was submitted.

“It was a perfect fit,” Martin said.

“We’ve been looking for something like this for a long time,” Karla Hardesty, chair of the SLV Health Board of Trustees, told the Valley Courier. “We’re really excited to offer this to our patents. It will be a lovely asset to our facility.

“We’re focused on improving access of care to our community across the Valley and even beyond, especially in the summer when we get people here from other places. I also think it’s very forward-thinking for us to be thinking about upgrades to our facilities. Patient quality is first and foremost but so is a good experience when people are going through hardships. They’re not here because they’re feeling good. They’re here because they need quality medical care. We’re able to do that having top notch facilities.” 

Hardesty went on to add, “We’re fortunate to have partnerships with the USDA. It’s very supportive of poor, rural communities to make these investments and sustain our financials and our communities’ access to care.”

When asked what message she thinks an investment like new private rooms sends to the funders, Martin told the Valley Courier, “I think this shows federal agencies that leaders believe in what we’re doing here and we’re worthy of this kind of investment. And we’re going to do good things with federal money and turn it into a community solution.”

When asked what message adding five private rooms sends to the patient population of the Valley (and beyond), Martin responded, “We believe our patents deserve the best health care we can provide. Having private rooms with better visitation and state-of-the-art equipment is what our patients and our community deserve. And that is our goal every single day.”


USDA Community Program Director Duane Dale joins Crestina in presenting SLV Health with the Rural Development Award