Sanford plans new heart center

Bone marrow transplant program as part of Fargo growth plan

Sanford plans a new heart and vascular health center to be built adjacent to its recently opened medical center as part of a slate of $200 million in investments over the next decade to expand services for a growing patient base.

The announcement coincides with the one-year anniversary of the opening of the $594 million Sanford Medical Center, where patient volumes are exceeding projections, according Nate White, Sanford’s chief operating officer and executive vice president of Sanford Fargo.

Plans call for construction on the new heart and vascular health center to begin in two or three years, in what Sanford administrators expect will be the first of a series of clinical buildings to expand the medical campus in the coming years.

“We are trying to create a one-stop destination for all of our service lines,” clustering related services at its three Fargo medical campuses as Sanford strives to expand its role as a regional, destination medical center, White said.

“For a lot of things we’re trying to do our competition is Minneapolis or Denver,” he said.

Many heart procedures already are performed in the cardiac catheterization lab at the medical center, but clinical services for cardiologists and cardiovascular surgeons still are based at the downtown center.

Adding the heart and vascular center to the main medical campus at 5225 23rd Ave. S. will eliminate the back-and-forth drives — a 7- or 8-mile trip each way — for physicians and staff.

“It’s more efficient for our staff … and obviously more convenient for patients,” White said.

“This is a vision we already had our arms around when we built this medical center,” he added, referring to development of the campus over time.

Before settling on expansion plans, “We wanted to be open a year to have a better feel of what needs to be out here,” White said.

This fall, work begins on adding 18 new hospital rooms in space that was shelled off to allow for future growth at the new medical center.

Also, Sanford plans an architectural facelift and expansion for its orthopedic and rehabilitation center on South University Drive. The remodeling, which has begun, is expected to cost $25 million and will include features to give the medical center the Collegiate Gothic architectural style that is Sanford’s signature look.

In a second phase, expected to cost $75 million, work will include the addition of four new operating rooms, along with some related diagnostic services.

Plans also call for additional services at the Roger Maris Cancer Center, including a bone marrow transplant program, which would be the first in North Dakota or South Dakota, White said.

“It isn’t a money-maker, but it’s an important service for the community,” he said. It will keep patients and their families closer to home and provide care that is less costly than at major out-of-state medical centers, White said.

“We feel we can provide better value for payers,” both public and private, he said.

Soon, remodeling of the former emergency room at the downtown campus will be completed, expanding the number of infusion rooms from 30 to 40.

In other plans, Sanford envisions new primary care clinics to keep up with population growth in southern Fargo and West Fargo. The Veterans Square Clinic is expected to open late spring 2019, with almost 6,000 square feet for children’s and primary care services.

Since opening a year ago, patient volumes at the new medical center have grown more than anticipated, White said.

“It’s exceeded every one of our expectations,” he said. Hospital admissions are up almost 5 percent, and the birth center saw an 18-percent increase during a recent one-year period. Sanford’s three campuses had a record hospital census of 495 patients on Feb. 15, and now have a daily average of 400 patients.