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Essentia Health South Tower rendering. Special to The Forum

Essentia plans $80 million expansion in Fargo: Centerpiece of plan is new $50M hospital wing

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FARGO – Essentia Health is embarking on an $80 million construction initiative highlighted by a new wing on its hospital.

The new, four-story wing will extend to the south and open with 28 new beds in January 2015 at its center at 3000 32nd Ave. S. Plans allow for the quick addition of another 28 beds when needed.

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“This is something that I think is long overdue,” said Dr. Greg Glasner, president and chief medical officer of Essentia’s west region. “The campus has reached its capacity in infrastructure.”

Hospital occupancy in the 105-bed hospital has been running at 85 percent at midnight, but often is full during the day, he said.

Design work for the 105,000-square-foot tower has a price tag of $50 million and will be finished this spring; footings and foundation work will follow this summer.

The new tower will have suites for imaging, endoscopy, interventional radiology and heart catheterization procedures, as well as pharmacy, nutrition services and an auditorium.

The construction projects will be officially announced today in a presentation that will include Dr. Peter Person, Essentia’s chief executive officer.

“This will allow Essentia to take patient care to the next level in Fargo, as we continue to fulfill our mission to make a healthy difference in the lives of the people we serve,” Person said in a statement.

Construction also will begin this spring on a new support services building to serve as a regional supply distribution center and provide office space for functions such as bill coding and business services.

The 25,000-square-foot, $4.5 million building will be located south of 32nd Avenue South just west of Interstate 29 on land owned by Essentia.

During construction on the new hospital wing, Essentia clinic space at the former Dakota Clinic location on South University Drive will be redone in a $5.4 million renovation.

The remodeled clinic space will allow several departments to expand, accommodating new specialists who already have been hired in advance of the hospital expansion, Glasner said.

“We’ve hired in half of the doctors to support this over the next two years,” he said.

Many specialties were staffed by one or two doctors but are expanding to four, five or six to handle a growing patient volume in Fargo and the surrounding service area.

The expansions in Fargo come after Essentia has invested $50 million over the past five years to expand and improve satellite locations in communities including Jamestown as well as Detroit Lakes, Park Rapids and Pelican Rapids in Minnesota.

“We’ve grown the referral market, now we have to grow the Fargo campus,” Glasner said.

A second construction phase at Essentia’s center on 32nd Avenue will begin in January 2014. A two-story office building will be built west of the hospital.

The $7.5 million building will have 20,000 square feet and will house specialty clinic space. Decisions about which departments will be located in the new building are still being made.

Two parking lots will be built, adding 400 new spaces to the campus this fall.

A third construction phase will begin in December 2014 with the expansion of the hospital’s emergency department, operating rooms and imaging services.

The $9.7 million expansion, which will double the number of emergency treatment rooms from 13 to 26, is expected to be completed early in 2016.

In all cases, Glasner said, the projects are being done because patient volumes have grown and there is no alternative.

A shelled floor with room for 28 beds will be occupied when supported by patient census. Once completed, a total of 56 beds will have been added to the current 105.

“We’re going to grow into those beds,” Glasner said. “We’re trying to be prudent with our dollar.”

Patrick Springer, INFORUM

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