FARGO - Sanford Health plans to revamp part of the former PRACS Institute building in south Fargo and turn it into pathology laboratory, office and support spaces to support its Fargo hospitals, officials with the health giant confirmed Wednesday, June 17

It will cost $2.2 million to rehab about 30,000 square feet at 4820 23rd Ave. S., according to a permit request filed with the city.

The former PRACS laboratory space is perfect for consolidating its Fargo pathology services, Sanford officials said.

All of the tissue processing and biopsies will be sent to the new location so that pathologists - now scattered between the Broadway, South University Drive and Sanford Medical Center Fargo locations - can render diagnoses. Sanford will also relocate its microbiology and infectious disease lab there, too, said Dr. Angie Wood, a dermatopathologist and pathology department chair.

Dr. Angie Wood. (Photo courtesy of Sanford Health)
Dr. Angie Wood. (Photo courtesy of Sanford Health)

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“We’ll all move to the same location, which will create a nice synergy and, we think, markedly decrease the turnaround times for patients waiting for biopsy results,” Wood said.

All of the experts will be in one place, and more biopsies will get “a second set of eyes,” and likely improve the quality of work, she said.

“Communication is going to be a whole lot easier,” she said.

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“We’re moving a lot of our services to the new center of the city. … Instead of having most of these services split across three campuses. We can bring them together under one roof,” said Tony Breding, Sanford’s senior director of laboratory and pathology operations.

Troy Breding (Photo courtesy of Sanford Health)
Troy Breding (Photo courtesy of Sanford Health)

He said it was important to have the lab near the Sanford trauma center, and finding this space “was huge.”

“We were looking at doing this one way or another. … When you find a space that’s a vacated clinical laboratory space, I mean, there’s no better place to set up shop,” Breding said.

Wood agreed.

“A lot of infrastructure is there. Backup generator outside the building. The wiring. The ventilation system. … We were able to do it for a fraction of what the cost would be if we built a free-standing lab. And there’s no room in the new medical center. It’s full,” Wood said.

Given the increased workload for pathology over the last five years, the new space will be welcome, she said.

“We just haven’t had space for a long time and now we’ll finally be in a building with ample space,” Wood said. “We’re really cramped at all of our three locations.”

Construction is expected to start in early July, with the space ready to move in equipment in December. The aim is to have the lab in operation in early January 2021, Breding said.

About 100 employees will be consolidated at the PRACS facility, Breding said.