FARGO - Richard Fiske has been setting up and operating rehabilitation hospitals for decades, and one thing he has learned is that a bed is about the worst place to spend time when someone is recovering from something like a stroke or other brain- or spine-related injury.
"You need to be up and at 'em," said Fiske, who is bringing his years of experience in the medical world to a new rehabilitation hospital that soon will be built in Fargo.
Cobalt Medical Development, a Dallas-based concern, will be developer and operator of the hospital, said Fiske, CEO of the company that began about six years ago.
Fargo's facility will be the fifth hospital built by Cobalt, which has plans for nine additional sites around the country.
Fiske said Cobalt views patients who are recovering from injuries as being broken, not sick.
"So, let's stop treating them like they're sick," he said, describing patient spaces at Cobalt rehabilitation hospitals as being more like hotel suites than hospital rooms.
Cobalt hospitals also have chefs and fine-dining areas, where patients are encouraged to eat their meals and interact with other people.
"That's really social therapy," Fiske said.
"The more you can get the individual out of the room, the better the outcomes will be," agreed Tony Lisotta, Cobalt's executive vice president for business development.
Fiske said groundbreaking is expected to take place in April for the approximately 40-bed, two-story, 60,000-square-foot hospital in Fargo that will employ 150 to 160 people.
The facility will be built in the area of the 4700 block of 38th Street South next to Interstate 29 and near the Microsoft campus.
Cobalt anticipates the patient base for its Fargo hospital will be vast.
"We're not going to be competing with the local hospitals, we're going to be working with them," he said, adding that many local doctors are now sending rehab patients to facilities as far away as in Denver, Omaha and Chicago.
He said Cobalt decided on Fargo for its newest hospital for a number of reasons, including the local colleges and the high-quality workers they produce.
"We will be a magnet for bringing in quality health care people," Fiske said.
State-of-the-art technology will also be a hallmark of the new Fargo hospital, say Fiske and Lisotta, who point to a new robotic body-weight support system that will be used to help paralyzed patients practice walking.
The nearest health facility that offers something similar is the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., Fiske said.