On the heels of celebrating its 10th anniversary in Woodbury, Woodwinds Health Campus has been one of few area hospitals to unfreeze its capital improvements budget.

To date in 2010, the hospital has spent about $750,000 to expand services in its radiology department and oncology clinic, and to build additional space for tenants in its Birch Center.

In all, about 7,450 square feet of the Woodwinds campus has been remodeled.

Tom Schmitt, who came to Woodwinds as chief executive officer in March, said the hospital hopes to better position itself as "what health care reform is calling us to be: An organization that supports community health and wellness."

The hospital has continued to grow throughout its 10-year history in Woodbury.

In August of 2000, Woodwinds opened with 70 inpatient beds. Eight beds were added in 2005, and again in 2008, bringing the total to 86 inpatient beds.

Within that period, between 2002 and 2009, inpatient admissions increased by 54 percent. According to data from the Minnesota Compass, the population in Washington County grew by about 15 percent between 2000 and 2009.

Although the Minnesota Hospital Association does not track every expansion project, spokesperson Jan Hennings said she did not know of any other projects as large as Woodwinds' currently ongoing.

Financially, hospitals are doing slightly better in 2010, she said, as a result of cost-cutting they may have done in 2008 or 2009.

"But we're hearing it may take many years, if ever, before they actually rebound to their 2007 levels," she said.

In 2008, Minnesota hospitals cut back $351 million in budgeted capital expenditures, she said. Last year, that figure dropped by about half, with $176 million in cutbacks. The most recent data available is for the first quarter of 2010, in which hospitals reported cutbacks of $25 million.

Woodwinds will add six jobs to support the new oncology clinic, and a temporary position was created in the spring to support the radiology department, a job which may become permanent, said Helen McIntyre, administrative director for outpatient services. In 2009, the hospital had 843 employees and was the largest employer in Woodbury.

The medical oncology clinic is currently under construction in the Birch Center, which is connected to the main hospital. A total of five exam rooms and one integrative care room are being built at a cost of $150,000. The clinic will be open for patients starting Oct. 4.

McIntyre said the clinic is expected to see 250 newly diagnosed patients in its first year.

The new clinic also will connect to Woodwinds' existing infusion services, where patients undergo intravenous procedures such as chemotherapy.

McIntyre said the new "flash" CT scanner is one of only about a dozen in the nation, and is the only one in the metro area to focus solely on full-body scans.

The $1 million machine has the capability to scan an entire adult body in about six seconds, compared to about 27 seconds without the "flash."

The two tenants to benefit from the increased space in the Birch Center are the Natural Care Center, a clinic owned and operated by Bloomington-based Northwestern Health Sciences University, and the Adefris and Toppin Women's Specialists, a women's health center.

Schmitt said both had seen an increase in demand and required additional space.

Emma L. Carew • 651-735-9749