Tour Sanford’s new Fargo Medical Center

At 11 stories, 1 million square feet and nearly
$500 million, the Sanford Fargo Medical Center sets records. It’s the largest private construction project
ever in North Dakota or for Sanford Health. “Planning for this and planning for the move
pretty much pulled in every employee we’ve got,” said Paul Richard, who leads the Fargo
region. Planning started back in 1999 when the health
system bought nearly 140 acres at the intersection of two interstates, before anything surrounding
the property had been developed. Sanford committed to the project in 1999 when
it merged with Meritcare. “That launched a lot of planning and seven
years later we’re here today.” Paul Richard leads this region for Sanford. He’s retiring in August and the project
has brought his career full circle. He started here as a clerk in medical records
in 1971. “There’s always additions going on but
I think to start a free-standing hospital, medical center of this complexity would be
unusual, would be rare.” But the growth of Fargo, the limitations of
Sanford’s downtown campus and the goals of the organization demanded it. “There’s very few reasons why people should
have to leave Fargo-Moorhead for health care. And when you want to accomplish that as a
goal you have to have the house in which to accomplish that, and that is this house.” This facility was built during the height
of the North Dakota oil boom. So the labor market was tight. Construction costs were going up. And one of the ways Sanford dealt with it
was by manufacturing entire components of this facility off site. So for instance, every bathroom was manufactured
in Ohio and shipped here. It resulted in one of the lowest costs per
square foot of any hospital project in the country, “Around the patient experience we know that
light, color, sound is very important. Sound from the standpoint of quiet. So we really focused on how can we deliver
a different patient experience here than we’ve traditionally done.” Every patient room has a window with a view,
and many have spaces for families to stay together. The design allows natural light throughout
the building. And a focus on local art led to 1,700
spots for artwork. “It’s all important. It’s about the overall experience and getting
away from that sterile, clinical look I think hospitals typically have been.” There also are three restaurants, serving
not just visitors but the more than 1,500 people who will work at the hospital. And while the first patient will be seen in
late July, Sanford has more land left and more plans to expand its services in the area. “It’s the end of one big project but the
beginning of a lot of other things we’re going to be doing in the Fargo market.”

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