HomeNewsFormer hospital building continues to serve community by providing housing for women, children, and employees and housing a variety of community service organizations

Former hospital building continues to serve community by providing housing for women, children, and employees and housing a variety of community service organizations

When Orange City Area Health System moved to its new sprawling campus on the edge of Orange City in May of 2006, a 90,000-square-foot facility in the heart of the community was left vacant after serving as the home to a hospital, clinic, and long-term-care residence for over 40 years. It was only a matter of months, however, before the former patient rooms, waiting areas, and offices began transforming into a hub of much-needed community services and housing. Eleven years later, the health system’s “Downtown Campus” continues to thrive as a centrally-located collection of agencies and organizations that are serving Northwest Iowans, improving health, and changing lives. Two of the important services provided at the Downtown Campus involve needed housing options. The Bridge, located in the former hospital’s inpatient wing, is a faith-based transitional housing program that provides rent-free housing, resources, case management, education, and counseling for women and their children. Opened in September 2007, it is the first rural transitional housing for women and children who are homeless or near homeless in the rural counties (Sioux, Plymouth, Osceola, O’Brien, Lyon) of Northwest Iowa. The Bridge consists of six rooms housing 6-12 residents at any given time, plus a shared kitchen, computer room, and living room. “The Bridge provides a safe, stable, faith-based home for women and children impacted by homeless and domestic violence,” explains Becky Erdman, Executive Director. “Our goal is that residents break unhealthy cycles in their lives and are empowered to independence. It is difficult, but extremely rewarding work. It is work that we couldn’t do without the support of the community and Orange City Area Health System.” Another source of niche housing in the Downtown Campus is Central Plaza Apartments, managed by Orange City Area Health System and available for its employees only. Designed to help recruit and retain key health system staff by offering affordable housing, the renovated area of the former hospital includes a one-bedroom apartment and six efficiency apartments, as well as “sleep rooms” for on-call staff to use. There is also a shared community room which includes a stove/oven, microwave, fridge/freezer, big screen TV, and patio area for grilling. Rent is subsidized, is payroll-deducted, and includes heat, air, water, garbage, and WiFi. “The location of the Central Plaza Apartments allows for a quick response time while on call,” says Ashlynn Kampa, a respiratory therapist at Orange City Area Health System and a tenant of the apartments. “The affordable rent is just another plus!” In addition to these housing services, the Downtown Campus houses important community service organizations and health and wellness options, including Orange City Area Home Health & Hospice, Northwestern College’s nursing lab, a Healthy Orange City walking route and stretching stations, a community adult activity center, mental/behavioral health providers, Hope Haven wheelchair ministries and offices, a medical education/training facility, Mid-Sioux Opportunities, Iowa State Extension offices, Western Iowa Dairy Alliance, and Northwest Iowa Early Childhood services. “One of the commitments we made to the community and to ourselves when we moved to the health system’s new main campus 11 years ago was that we would be good stewards in utilizing the former clinic and hospital known as the Downtown Campus,” says Dan McCarty, COO of Orange City Area Health System. “We are very pleased to have been able to provide the Downtown Campus as a human services hub for those in need.”