By Beau Eastes • The Bulletin

PRINEVILLE — Health care in Crook County is about to take a giant step forward into the 21st century.

St. Charles Prineville, the new 62,000-square-foot health care center located on the city’s eastern edge, is set to open Sept. 21, replacing Prineville’s 65-year-old Pioneer Memorial Hospital.

The stylish $30 million structure — designed by Colorado-based architecture firm The Neenan Company, whose other projects include New Belgium Brewing’s Fort Collins campus — includes a primary-care center and critical-access hospital within the same building. The new health center is about 20 percent smaller than Pioneer Memorial, said Jeanie Gentry, the CEO of St. Charles Prineville and St. Charles Madras, but through flexible design applications, it should be capable of serving twice as many people as the old hospital.

“We’re thrilled with the new building,” Gentry told a group of media members Friday morning during a press preview tour. “It’s not as big or audacious as the old hospital, and that’s a good thing.”

St. Charles Prineville will house 16 private inpatient rooms, an emergency department, imaging and laboratory services, two surgical suites and an expanded physical and respiratory therapy area. The campus has fewer private offices for medical staff compared to Pioneer Memorial, instead relying more on communal work pods that encourage collaboration between different specialists.

One of the more innovative elements of the building is the combining of the emergency room and the surgical department. The shared space helps reduce staff and space needs, Gentry and The Neenan Company officials said. Additionally, the hospital boasts two onsite residential rooms — think deluxe hotel rooms with a kitchenette — for visiting medical personnel or local health care providers who need to catch some sleep between shifts.

“The triple aim for the health care industry right now is to increase access, improve quality and reduce costs,” said Michael Curtis, vice president of The Neenan Company’s health care division. “Everything we did here was with that in mind.”

Aesthetically, the building has the feel of a ski lodge or hip warehouse district restaurant. The main entrance is flanked by two-story tall windows that illuminate the main communal area with enormous amounts of natural light. Exposed wood and various types of stone pay homage to Prineville’s past as a mill and lumber hub as well as the area’s diverse geological background. The new hospital is built on the site of Ochoco Lumber Company’s former Prineville mill.

The Combs Flat Kitchen, a coffee shop and restaurant which will be open to the public, looks like it was lifted off of Minnesota Avenue in downtown Bend. Local art adorns the walls throughout the hospital, and a pristine white Yamaha grand piano is located on the second floor near the majority of the inpatient rooms. A large circular fireplace that resembles one of Prineville’s historic smokestacks dominates the front lobby.

“The staff (at Pioneer Memorial) asked us to recognize the history of the area,” said Miguel Burbano de Lara, The Neenan Company’s chief architect on the project. “We tried to be very cognitive, to that end, of the land and the mill and a lot of the different kind of stones in the area.”

St. Charles Prineville looks to be the focal point of what could be a new development zone on Prineville’s east side. As part of its sales agreement with Ochoco Lumber Co., St. Charles Health System master-planned approximately 50 acres near the hospital. Future developments near St. Charles Prineville could include a wellness center, Gentry said. Other options would be various health care-related businesses, such as pharmacies or a natural health clinic.

“We’re thrilled to be the anchor tenant,” Gentry added. “And we’ve got a lot of room to do some other things down the road. There’s space here for a number of different things that would be beneficial to the community.”

— Reporter: 541-617-7829,