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Sanford breaks ground on $20M health care facility in Dickinson

A project to build a $20 million health care facility in Dickinson took another major step forward during a groundbreaking ceremony and press conference Wednesday at the Biesiot Activities Center on the Dickinson State University campus.

Dubbed a "super clinic," the new facility is set to open during the summer of 2014 and will be located along Fairway Street, adjacent to the West River Community Center on Dickinson's west side.

"Sanford Health Dickinson Clinic has been a proud member of the Dickinson community for more than 25 years," said Craig Lambrecht, president of Sanford's Bismarck region. "The need for expanded care in Dickinson, Stark County and surrounding areas is great and we know we must grow to meet those needs."

Medcenter One -- which employs around 90 people at its Dickinson clinic -- joined forces with Sanford Health earlier this year. Following the announcement, Sanford pledged $200 million of investments over 10 years to help North Dakota with its growing health care needs.

Among the speakers at a gathering of close to 80 at the BAC were North Dakota Lt. Gov. Drew Wrigley, State Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner, R-Dickinson, and Dickinson Mayor Dennis Johnson.

"I think Sanford will be very happy to be expanding its facilities here in Dickinson," Wardner said. "We've got people here that get things done. I'm very proud to be from Dickinson and I'd like to say thank you to Sanford for helping to enhance the quality of life in western North Dakota and in the city of Dickinson."

Located on the fringes of one of the busiest shale formations in North America, Dickinson has seen its population increase by leaps and bounds in the past several years. At its Dickinson clinic, wait times for routine and "quick care" visits ballooned to triple what they were pre-oil boom, according to Sanford figures.

Patients currently are waiting up to four weeks on average to be seen for a routine visit. More than tripling its current space, the new clinic will take up 80,000 square feet and will feature a range of clinical services, including pediatrics, family medicine, OB/GYN, space for mobile MRI/CT services and an infusion room for oncology, among other offerings.

"This will be huge," said Ryan Zimmermann, a doctor who works at the Dickinson clinic. "This new clinic is going to be key for providing not only regular care for issues like high blood pressure, but also for people who have urgent care needs. If people don't have access to care, they tend to just not come in. In the long run, that ends up being more problematic for the individual and more expensive for the medical system as a whole."

Sister Paula Larson, who sits on the Sanford Bismarck Board of Directors, said the enhanced availability of services is important for rural western North Dakota residents.

"I live in Richardton," Larson said. "Those of us who live in the outlying areas come to Dickinson for lots of our services and one big one is health care. Dickinson is our health care hub. We can get steamed if we come to Dickinson and can't see anybody. This is going to be a great example for shaping the future of health care in our immediate area. This is a wise investment."

Sanford touts the new complex as being "state-of-the art" and with the capability to "house 20-plus physicians. The new clinic will also be paid for with private funds, said Sanford spokesperson Kim Singer.

"Access to quality health care in the Dickinson community becomes a bigger issue every day," said Dickinson clinic administrator Jeremiah Lindgren.