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Published July 31, 2012, 11:30 PM

New Sanford center to be more efficient than current hospital

FARGO – Earth moved Tuesday evening to mark the start of construction on the new $541 million Sanford Medical Center. Plans call for the 10-story center to open in 2016, primarily as a hospital, with interior completion of its clinical wings by 2018. About 200,000 square feet of clinical space will be shelled until finished.

By: Patrick Springer, INFORUM

FARGO – Earth moved Tuesday evening to mark the start of construction on the new $541 million Sanford Medical Center.

Plans call for the 10-story center to open in 2016, primarily as a hospital, with interior completion of its clinical wings by 2018. About 200,000 square feet of clinical space will be shelled until finished.

The festive groundbreaking – with namesake benefactor T. Denny Sanford on hand and pop rock group Train serenading employees, family members and guests – came after 2½ years of planning.

Once fully staffed, the new medical center will require another 2,000 full-time equivalent positions, adding to Sanford’s current 7,500 staff in Fargo-Moorhead.

Also, during four years of building, the project will employ an estimated 600 construction workers.

“It’s going to be a huge impact,” Andrew Richberg, a Sanford executive vice president, said of the project’s economic impact.

Once finished, the new medical center will serve more than 4,200 patients daily, including inpatients occupying 460 beds and clinical patients who will be seen in 347 exam rooms.

The new medical center follows years of planning. The 105-acre location was purchased about 15 years ago for future expansion, said Dr. Richard Marsden, senior executive vice president of Sanford Clinic Fargo.

The new hospital, with distinct corridors to separate patients and their families from staff and physicians will improve patient privacy, he said.

As for those who are concerned that the project’s $541 million price tag will inflate their health care bills, Marsden said, “The reality is we don’t set the prices on much of anything.”

Payers, including public and private health insurers, determine what they will pay for services, he said.

On the other hand, the new medical center will be much more efficient than the current center, which was built in phases over time.

The oldest portions, which will be demolished after the new center is built, are out of date, Marsden said. Elsewhere, certain departments were “landlocked,” or isolated from related departments, necessitating a lot of unnecessary “back and forth,” he said.

For that matter, Sanford’s downtown campus was hemmed in by other development, a key consideration in the decision to build an all-new medical center.

“It’s kind of a big bang approach to a new facility,” Marsden said. The merger between MeritCare and Sanford Health in November 2009, he said, added impetus to the decision to build a new medical center.

The new medical center will occupy almost 30 acres on the 105-acre site, with the physical plant occupying 20-plus more acres, allowing plenty of room for future expansion.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Patrick Springer at (701) 241-5522


The new Sanford Medical Center, opening in 2016 and 2018, at a glance

• 460 hospital beds

• 32 operating rooms

• 51 emergency department bays

• 110 hospital-based physicians in 18 specialties

• 150 clinical physicians in 30 more specialties

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