FARGO — Sanford Medical Center Fargo officially opened its doors in 2017. And now, just two years later, they've built another wing due to a record-breaking number of patients.

However, this wing is different from others.

"We've been waiting for this a long time," said Director of Nursing Operations Erica Wambach. "It's a big thing for Sanford. It's the first time we've done it in the Fargo region."

In just eight months, 18 beds were built and approximately 35 staff members were hired and organized. And now staff members are ready to get started with a new concept.

"We're introducing innovation and change management into our everyday work," Wambach said. "So, new ideas, technologies and workflows - will be implemented in our unit."

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In the new wing, about half of the beds will create a "controlled environment" for testing and allow nurses or other staff members to measure and evaluate new ideas and equipment.

Sanford Improvement Advisor Merideth Bell said the team will decide projects to test and then measure the results.

"If we have a new technology that we want to trial, we can bring it here to test it on this unit," Bell said. "Then we will get all the kinks out before rolling it out to the rest of the hospital."

Currently, four projects are in testing.

One project features real-time, location-based hand sanitizer dispensers to help monitor hand hygiene among staff.

The new wing isn't just geared toward patients. It also gives nurses and other staff members a voice and opportunity to create change.

"Nurses are like the perfect people," Bell said. "It really empowers them to bring their ideas forward and know that they matter and their ideas are important."

Sanford is part of a small handful of hospitals across the country to implement an innovation unit. And now they're hoping to set a new standard for patient care.

"We've got experienced nurses coming together. They are so excited to make the change," Wambach said. "We're going to be the change at Sanford that's going to improve patient care."