FARGO — Vice President of the Sanford Clinic for Fargo James Volk says 18 new beds have been added to a previously empty wing of their Broadway clinic.

Although the hospital opened the beds just last week, 15 of them are already occupied.

The main factor of making the move was to ease access to health care for North Dakota residents.

"North Dakotans already many times travel great distances to receive medical care. And what we don't want to do is we don't want them traveling out of the state. So really, the goal is to serve, not just Fargo-Moorhead metro area, but the rest of the state of North Dakota," Volk said.

The continuing COVID-19 situation is a big factor. Those patients currently take up roughly 20% of Sanford's Fargo beds.

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"With patients with COVID, we're having a much longer length of stay," Volk said. "And so, we were using many more of our inpatient beds, and we were essentially running out of space."

Volk said that while more beds at the Broadway clinic are not planned, there will be more opening at Sanford Medical Center early next year.