FARMINGTON Although construction actually began in late October, county commissioners, city government officials and members of the local medical community gathered Tuesday for an official ground-breaking ceremony at the site of the future Presbyterian Medical Services health center complex.

The new sprawling, campus-like facility located adjacent to the current PMS center at 1001 W. Broadway will be 30,000 square feet large, which is double the capacity of the current space, and will be able to service 5,000 new patients, according to PMS's President and CEO, Steven Hansen.

"The new facility will have 37 exam rooms as opposed to the current 18 that we have," said Hansen. "We'll also be able to hire more doctors, nurses and other professional staff to support more people in the community."

Presbyterian Medical Services employees and members of the public look on Tuesday during a ground breaking ceremony for a new Presbyterian Medical Services
Presbyterian Medical Services employees and members of the public look on Tuesday during a ground breaking ceremony for a new Presbyterian Medical Services clinic in Farmington. (Jon Austria/The Daily Times)

Hansen said all of PMS's services, including the medical, dental and mental health components, will now be in one place, and the facility will also house a pharmacy and lab. The current lack of space requires those seeking dental care to travel across town to another building.

"This will make all the difference in the world to our community," said PMS Northwest Region Director Mike Renaud. "There are so many people who are underserved and who need medical, dental and mental health care."

PMS is a non-profit organization that operates 45 clinics throughout New Mexico, offering multiple services including those for adults and children with disabilities, Hospice & Home Care, a head start program, and a residential treatment program for youth. It employs 315 people locally and about 1,000 statewide. PMS serves those who have Medicare, Medicaid, and those who are uninsured or underinsured — no one is denied care, said Hansen.

Although many people associate PMS with the Presbyterian Hospital in Albuquerque, Hansen said PMS is actually a stand-alone organization that just happens to share a similar name.

In addition to providing medical care for underserved individuals, PMS actively supports the community in other ways, such as operating the Red Apple Transit from its inception until 2010.

"We like to support other service agencies," said Hansen. "If we're the only ones who have the infrastructure for something, we're always wanting to help."

Mike Renaud, Presbyterian Medical Services Northwest region director, gives opening remarks on Tuesday during a ground breaking ceremony for a new clinic
Mike Renaud, Presbyterian Medical Services Northwest region director, gives opening remarks on Tuesday during a ground breaking ceremony for a new clinic in Farmington. (Jon Austria/The Daily Times)

The new campus will cost a total of $8 million dollars to complete, and although PMS was able to obtain a $5 million Affordable Care Act grant, as well as a $300,000 grant from the Merrion Foundation, they will need to raise an additional $2 million to pay off the complex. Hansen said PMS will be mounting a capital campaign to raise those funds.

Prior to community leaders and PMS staff and board members taking up their shovels to officially "break ground" at Tuesday's ceremony, Farmington Mayor Tommy Roberts thanked those who were involved in funding and planning the expansion, and said he is pleased that the location of the future facility, which builders hope to have completed and ready for occupancy by next October, falls in the middle of the Farmington metropolitan area that city officials hope to continue improving.

"This will be a tremendous asset to our community, and I appreciate the commitment PMS has shown," Roberts said. "It will have a long-range impact for the whole community."

T. Greg Merrion echoed Roberts' enthusiasm about what PMS has been able to provide to the community, and said that once the Merrion Foundation learned of the opportunity to invest in the expansion, they quickly moved forward with the grant to help kick off the project.

"We jumped on it," he said. "We look for opportunities that improve the quality of life in our community and opportunities that create jobs. And I love the fact that this is happening literally in our own backyard."

Leigh Black Irvin covers health and science for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4610 lirvin@daily-times.com. Follow her @irvindailytimes on Twitter.