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Posted on Tue, Mar 22, 2011 : 5:36 p.m.

Chelsea Community Hospital $60 million expansion breaks ground

By Lisa Allmendinger


Kathleen Griffiths, president and CEO of Chelsea Community Hospital, left, listens while Sister Yvonne Gellise, senior advisor for governance for Saint Joseph Mercy Health System, gives a blessing. To the right of the lectern are Garry Faja, president and CEO of Saint Joseph Mercy Health System, and Eric Skye, chief of staff for Chelsea Community Hospital. They all attended today's groundbreaking for a new $60 million hospital expansion.

Lisa Allmendinger |

After two years of planning, the first shovel broke ground Tuesday afternoon for a $60 million, 100,000-square-foot expansion of Chelsea Community Hospital.

The expansion project was hailed as one of the largest, if not the largest, construction projects in Chelsea’s history.

Garry Faja, the president and CEO of Saint Joseph Mercy Health System, said it had been almost been two years since Chelsea Community Hospital and St. Joseph Mercy Health System merged, and through this collaboration, the new expansion was made possible.

He told about 125 people who attended the event Tuesday that “both organizations had benefited” from the merger, learning and working with each other. Kathleen Griffiths, president and CEO of Chelsea Hospital said, “This is a wonderful day in our history, and while the new two-story building will have an impact on our campus, the partnership between the health organizations will provide not only remarkable medicine and remarkable care, but also a remarkable new facility for the Chelsea community."

Last week, the Chelsea Planning Commission unanimously approved the final site plan for the new two-story building that will have 48 new private patient rooms and six intensive care rooms.

Also included in the building is a new emergency department with 20 treatment rooms, a conference space, meeting rooms, a small retail and café area, as well as a pharmacy.

There will be in-patient physical therapy, speech therapy and occupational therapy areas, as well as cardiac rehabilitation space and in-patient and out-patient radiology services, said Phil Boham, vice president for facilities and support services.

The number of beds won’t change, as the hospital is licensed for 113 beds, but private patient rooms will now be on the second floor.

Chelsea_Community Hospital expansion site.JPG

A current view of part of the expansion area for Chelsea Community Hospital, including the tent that held about 125 people for today's groundbreaking ceremony.

Lisa Allmendinger |

The hospital entrance will be flipped around from its current location on the east side of the 127-acre campus to the west side. Plans call for the new building to be completed by September 2012.

Next, renovations of the current hospital building are expected to begin and take about 18 months.

David Killips, chairman of the Chelsea Hospital Board of Trustees, called the new building a state-of-the art facility for the service area that includes Chelsea, Manchester, Stockbridge, Grass Lake and Dexter.

Eric Skye, M.D. and chief of staff for Chelsea Hospital, said the new facility will offer the next phase of patient services, including expanded oncology services that began with the new infusion center that opened last fall.

Several campus buildings will be demolished, including the outpatient behavioral health clinic, which has moved to the Clocktower complex and is expected to open this month.

“This is a great partnership with Chelsea Community Hospital and the Chelsea community, and we will do everything we can to be successful,” Faja said.


From left: David Killips, chairman of the Chelsea Community Hospital board of trustees; Jason Lindauer, Chelsea's mayor; Kathleen Griffiths, president and CEO of Chelsea Hospital; Eric Skye, chief of staff for Chelsea Hospital; and Garry Faja, president and CEO of Saint Joseph Mercy Health System, get ready to turn their shovels.

Lisa Allmendinger |

Chelsea Mayor Jason Lindauer related a story about how in 1966, his father was the architect for the Chelsea Medical Clinic.

"I have fond memories of running around here and climbing on the roof," he said.

He said that whenever he travels around the county, people remark on “the loving and gentle care that they or their relatives have received at Chelsea Hospital. It’s so vital to the quality and reputation that’s Chelsea Community Hospital.”

The hospital has expanded several times since 1970, but this is the largest expansion to date.

The hospital’s theme for the project is “Growing on You,” which Griffiths said is appropriate “Because we are, quite simply, growing to meet the needs of our community.”

Because of the construction, the Bushel Basket Market, the summer farmers market usually held on the hospital grounds on Wednesday afternoons, plans to temporarily move to the Chelsea State Bank parking lot at Main Street and Old US-12 for the coming season, according to a Facebook post by organizers.

The first day of the 2011 season is expected to be May 4 from 2:30 to 6 p.m.

Lisa Allmendinger is a reporter with She can be reached at For more Chelsea stories, visit our Chelsea page.


Bob Martel

Tue, Mar 22, 2011 : 9:43 p.m.

Congratulations and thanks to all my friends at CCH & SJMHS! This is a great addition to the community. Best of luck for a relatively trouble free construction period.