FARGO — Sanford Health is moving ahead with plans for major construction projects in the next few years that include a new heart center and continued renovation of its orthopedic specialty center.
Price tags for the two planned projects will be roughly $43 million to $46 million for the new heart and vascular center, which will be built adjacent to Sanford Medical Center, and roughly $35 million to $40 million for renovation and equipment upgrades at its orthopedic center at Sanford’s South University campus.
“It’s not about the buildings, it’s about what’s going on inside the buildings,” which will bring new and expanded services to a growing population of patients, said Bryan Nermoe, president of Sanford Fargo.
Those projects are moving ahead in spite of the disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic, which caused clinic visits to plunge during March and April, as Sanford continues to experience patient volumes exceeding expectations from when the new medical center at 5225 23rd Ave. S. opened three years ago.
“We feel very fortunate to be part of a large, integrated system,” with the financial stability to move ahead with major projects, Nermoe said.
The new heart and vascular center is in the design phase. Infrastructure and site preparation work is scheduled for fall of 2021, with groundbreaking in the spring of 2022 and completion by fall of 2023.
“That’s our next project,” Nermoe said. “We anticipate to start that next year.”
The size of the new heart center will range from 80,000 to 100,000 square feet. The clinic will house all outpatient departments related to Sanford’s Heart Center of Excellence Program, most of which now are located at the Broadway campus.
Consolidating all heart-related services in one center will provide greater convenience for patients and greater efficiencies for physicians and staff, including eliminating the need for back-and-forth trips of seven or eight miles each way between Sanford Medical Center and the Broadway campus.
The new heart clinic will connect to Sanford Medical Center between the restaurant area and emergency department on the southeast side.
Once the new heart center opens, space vacated at the Broadway campus will enable a significant expansion of the Roger Maris Cancer Center, including the addition of bone-marrow transplant services and gene therapy treatments, which require sophisticated laboratory services.
“Our clinical trial enrollment just keeps growing and growing and growing,” Nermoe said.
Meanwhile, the first phase of renovations is under way at Sanford’s South University campus that focuses on orthopedic surgery, sports medicine and rehabilitation. The first phase, scheduled for completion in spring of 2021, includes a new entrance that incorporates the “Sanford look,” a blend of architectural styles involving Collegiate Gothic.
A second phase will add up to four operating rooms, expand urgent care space and add medical imaging capabilities, including an onsite magnetic resonance imaging scanner, or MRI. The estimated cost of the second phase is $35 million to $40 million.
Parking capacity for South University campus will double, with a lot expansion to the east of the main building.
Sanford will open 14 more hospital beds at Sanford Medical Center in November. Hospital admissions have been surging statewide in recent weeks due to a combination of factors, including normal care, acute cases from postponing treatment earlier in the pandemic and COVID-19 cases, administrators have said.
Sanford has 610 hospital beds at its three Fargo campuses: 348 at Sanford Medical Center, 188 at its Broadway campus and 74 at its South University center.
“I would say we’re near where we normally are for the fall,” said Nermoe, referring to the hospitals’ current census, which in early September logged a daily total of 500 for the first time.
Nermoe said he "wouldn't be surprised" to see Sanford build a new neighborhood clinic in growing southwest Fargo within the next two years.
Between August and October, 645 new employees started at Sanford Fargo, including 234 registered nurses and 31 physicians. Those figures include replacement hires.