Cobalt Rehabilitation Hospital prepares for opening

Karissa Olson, chief executive officer of Cobalt Rehabilitation Hospital, expects North Dakota's first specialty rehabilitation hospital will open in 45 to 60 days. The hospital is accredited and awaits a survey by state health officials.

FARGO — Cobalt Rehabilitation Hospital has gained accreditation and now awaits a licensing survey by state health officials as it prepares for an opening expected within 45 to 60 days.

The 42-bed hospital will be the first specialty physical rehabilitation hospital in North Dakota and will have a service area that includes all of North Dakota as well as portions of Minnesota and South Dakota.

Construction on the $24 million, 58,000-square-foot hospital was completed in late July and a 13-member management team has been hired, said Karissa Olson, the hospital’s chief executive officer.

Cobalt Rehabilitation Hospital, 4671 38th St. S., located just south of the Microsoft campus, is fully equipped. Once the medical director obtains a North Dakota license, the hospital will be ready for its state inspection, the final step to admitting patients, Olson said.

Originally, plans called for opening the hospital in the fall of 2017, but construction delays pushed back the opening date, she said.

“You’re basically at the mercy of the contractors,” Olson said.

Staff have been recruited and interviewed, but hiring of nurses, therapists and others will take place shortly before the hospital opens. A staff of about 100 is expected.

“We have the candidates,” Olson said, adding that many applications were received and interest in the positions is high.

In North Dakota, many patients who require rehabilitation after a stroke, traumatic brain injury or other injury spend much of their recovery in nursing homes. The nearest rehabilitation hospital is in St. Cloud, Minn. Some patients are referred to rehabilitation centers in the Twin Cities, Denver or Omaha, Olson said.

“We’re providing another option for our patients,” she said.

All patient rooms are private, but the hospital has a dining room and patients are encouraged to take their meals in the dining room. It has two rehab gyms, a room dedicated to helping patients relearn to walk on a variety of surfaces and a room with a lift and parallel bars that helps patients regain the ability to walk, among other facilities to help with various rehabilitation skills.

The hospital also is equipped with X-ray and laboratory services as well as a full-service pharmacy. Providing those services in-house eliminates the need for patients to leave the hospital, time away from rehabilitation, Olson said.

“Our goal is to eliminate out-of-facility time, because that takes away from therapy,” she said.

Some beds can accommodate dialysis equipment, and arrangements are being made to line up dialysis services, Olson said.

The average length of stay for patients will be 10 to 12 days, though some will have shorter stays and some longer, Olson said.

Cobalt Rehabilitation Hospital is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Rehabilitation Facilities.

(Sanford Health in Fargo and other health systems in the area, including Essentia Health and Altru Health, also provide inpatient rehabilitation services, but Cobalt will become the first hospital in the area exclusively focused on physical rehabilitation.)