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Fargo hospitals add emergency rooms to meet demand

Fargo hospitals add emergency rooms to meet demand

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FARGO, N.D. (AP) — Fargo’s largest hospital has opened seven new emergency rooms and another local hospital plans to expand its emergency services in this city of about 100,000 people.

Sanford Health officials said a $1.7 million expansion and renovation project has doubled the capacity of the hospital’s emergency center. The addition has resulted in a more efficient suite of 27 emergency rooms to better handle almost 60,000 patient visits a year, officials said.

“It’s just a night and day difference,” said Susan Jarvis, Sanford’s vice president of emergency, trauma and critical care services. “It really is.”

Sanford’s emergency center is one of the busiest in the tri-state region and sees almost twice as many patients as Sanford’s hospital in Sioux Falls, S.D.

Jarvis said the project was needed because of growing patient volumes even though Sanford will open a new hospital in Fargo in 2016. When the new facility opens in four years, plans call for 51 emergency rooms.

Sanford hopes to obtain designation for the highest level of trauma care, a certification usually attained only by major metropolitan medical centers. To qualify as a Level I trauma center, a hospital emergency room must provide around-the-clock, year-round staffing with trauma surgeons and supporting specialists.

There is not a designated Level I trauma center in North Dakota, South Dakota or western Minnesota. The nearest is in the Minneapolis area, said Dennis Millirons, president of Sanford Medical Center in Fargo.

“Level I trauma centers save patients’ lives every single day,” Millirons said, noting that starting treatment during the first hour is vital in saving critically injured patients. “That’s what Level I trauma centers are all about. They operate like a machine.”

Meanwhile, officials at Essentia Health in Fargo said that its 19-room emergency department also is experiencing an increase in visits, and there are plans to increase the capacity to as many as 35 rooms.

Essentia has been talking about the expansion for three years, said Dr. Tyler Hamilton, the hospital’s chairman of ambulatory services and physician director of emergency services.

“We’re bursting at the seams,” he said.

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