WDAY: The News Leader

Published April 04, 2013, 06:15 PM

Essentia, Sanford making big changes towards better healthcare

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - Essentia Health in Fargo will start construction on an 80 million dollar expansion this month.

By: Becky Parker, WDAY Staff Reports, WDAY

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - Essentia Health in Fargo will start construction on an 80 million dollar expansion this month.

The healthcare system will add 50-60 more beds over the next three years. They currently have 105 beds at their 32nd Avenue hospital. The expansion will include a four-story hospital tower added on to that campus.

Dr. Greg Glasner, Essentia Health West Region President: "So, we're trying to plan for that growth in a very mindful manner, cost-effective manner, where we're going to add infrastructure support to the building and then incrementally add beds as we continue to grow the medical staff to meet the demands of what the patients are expecting."

Essentia's additions come after Sanford Health broke ground on a 460 bed new hospital this past summer. It's no coincidence that the two healthcare giants are both choosing this time to expand.

This hospital had 60 beds when it was built in 2000. Now, there are 105 and the building must expand before it can add more. But it's not just population growth; it's the evolving nature of healthcare in the United States.

Here in the Emergency Department of Essentia Health, they see the growing healthcare needs firsthand.

Dr. Tony Hamilton, Emergency Medicine: "We are always 85%-100% full here it's crazy the emergency department has grown so much."

The Fargo-Moorhead area has been on the grow for years and experts say we could hit 300,000 people by 2040.

So, major hospitals like Essentia and Sanford Health need more space. However, there is more to the story than population growth.

Bruce Anderson, Concordia Dir. of Healthcare Administration: "From WWII until now, we've been operating on a healthcare system that is not sustainable and many people are not able to access it."

The Affordable Care Act tries to address that, changing the focus from illness-orientation to wellness-orientation.

Anderson: "So, what hospitals do is they have all these little community clinics and then have a big one that the others feed into."

So, patients are coming from all of those other communities and they expect those hospitals have to have the most up-to-date technology available.

Dr. Peter Person, Essentia Health CEO: "Healthcare is going through a transformation and Fargo-Moorhead is part of that transformation."

The project here at Essentia starts this month and they expect to finish in 2015.

While Sanford's giant project is set for completion in 2016.