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Tribune editorial: Sanford plans to improve our health care

Tribune editorial: Sanford plans to improve our health care

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Sanford Health’s plans for a same-day surgery center and an expanded children’s clinic will improve care for Bismarck-Mandan and the region. Along with a standalone heart hospital that Sanford plans in downtown Bismarck in the next decade, it will make Bismarck a health care destination.

The surgery center will be at Seventh Street and Broadway, the former location of the Sanford Seventh and Broadway Clinic. It will provide six operating rooms and 19 recovery rooms. Patients can be dropped off at the door, and there’s parking at the site.

Construction of the surgery center and the children’s clinic will begin this month, with completion expected next summer. The cost of the surgery center is pegged at nearly $16 million. No cost estimate has been released yet for the children’s clinic on Interstate Avenue.

Both projects, along with the heart hospital, will bring a boost to Bismarck’s economy during construction. Overall, Sanford has plans for projects that will total about $200 million over the coming years.

More importantly, the projects will improve care for the region. Fred Fridley, Sanford’s vice president of operations, said operating room volume is high. The new surgery center will handle outpatient surgeries, allowing Sanford Medical Center to increase inpatient surgeries.

Expansion of the Sanford Children’s North Clinic will provide 22 new exam rooms and increased space for children’s therapies.

“I would argue that our therapies are some specialized therapies that you don’t get in other places,” Dr. Michael LeBeau, Sanford president, told the Tribune editorial board last week.

“Kids come from all over for these services,” he added.

Those services will include a second spider cage, which is a therapeutic device that helps kids with mobility and balance.

LeBeau said Sanford plans to hire about 10 surgeons and eight pediatricians in the next five years. It already has hired two pediatricians. He also said Sanford feels fortunate to be able to expand during the pandemic.

The pandemic has demonstrated the strain that can be placed on hospitals. Many rural hospitals have reached capacity, forcing them to send patients to facilities in larger cities. Both Sanford Health and CHI St. Alexius Health have had few intensive care and inpatient beds available in recent days.

Outpatient surgeries have been delayed during the pandemic because of the number of beds available and other reasons. If the same-day surgery center had been available, it’s possible some surgeries could have been conducted. The same-day surgery center will no doubt ease the burden on Sanford Medical Center.

Sanford’s expansion plans bode well for Bismarck-Mandan for health and economic reasons. Most valuable is the increased health care the projects will provide to the region. The pandemic provides constant proof of the need for top-notch health care.

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