Watford City: Replacement Hospital - KXNet.com - Bismarck/Minot/Williston/Dickinson-KXNEWS,ND

Watford City: Replacement Hospital

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Historically, the hospital in Watford City cared for an aging population.

Today, emergency room visits are soaring with a diversity of illnesses and presentations from all over the country -- a workforce unaccustomed to temperatures and physical stress -- and the dangers of increased traffic.

Jennifer Kleen tells us about the plan for a NEW hospital --- custom built for the needs of a new age.

A healthy economy has outgrown the hospital.

Watford City population studies continue to swell --- the prognosis for the existing facility:

(Daniel Kelly, McKenzie County Healthcare Systems) "Although we've done a fairly decent job of maintaining it, it's dated. It's not built for medicine as it exists today. Given all of that, now is the time to make the change."

That change?

McKenzie County Healthcare Systems will be replacing the hospital with a new $58 million dollar facility attached to the Good Shepherd Home on the east edge of Watford City.

(Daniel Kelly, McKenzie County Healthcare Systems) "We have a fairly formidable task."

The medical facility infrastructure program approved last legislative session made a $12.5 million dollar loan available through the Bank of North Dakota.

A second loan application through the USDA for $28 million is in process now.

And the foundation will raise $15.5 million locally.

(Daniel Kelly, McKenzie County Healthcare Systems) "So with those three items in place. We anticipate undertaking the building process this summer."

The atrophied hospital and clinic will continue service for the next two years until completion.

Emergency room visits are up five times what they were in a 2006 review.

What was once a one room facility, is now a make shift three emergency room center --- Kelly says there's need for all ten in the proposed new building.

(Daniel Kelly, McKenzie County Healthcare Systems) "Historically, we might have seen traumas, one or two a month. That number is increasing to one or two traumas a week."

Kelly says most of those traumas are traffic related and more often than not -- there's more than one patient involved.

Clinic visits are also trending upward.

The new all-in-one facility will expand outpatient capacity from six exam rooms to 18 with room for traveling specialists.

(Daniel Kelly, McKenzie County Healthcare Systems) "One of the nice things about medical growth in the outpatient arena is that you can accommodate growth by adding additional staff or expanding hours. So we're pretty comfortable that the building as we have sized it today will meet our needs for the next 40 years."

The new building will also feature a 47 bed skilled nursing facility --- primarily private rooms.

Kelly says inpatient stays are trending downward nationally --- so extended stay will be near equal capacity.

The chronic problem for most Bakken business: the vertigo associated with the ever changing population predictions.

(Daniel Kelly, McKenzie County Healthcare Systems) "I don't think any of us really know where that number will be. I can assure you that when I moved here, we were a community of 15-hundred. Unofficially, we see ourselves as a community of 10-12-thousand and there have been fairly reliable studies that have been done that say as we move into 2025, we may be a community of 20-25-thousand."

McKenzie County Healthcare is getting ahead of the symptoms for a better tomorrow.

In Watford City, Jennifer Kleen, KX News.

The replacement hospital completion is anticipated in 2016.

Construction will also begin on a 24 unit apartment building this spring, and a hospital-run daycare for children of staff members may soon follow.

Two physicians were recruited in February for a current total of three doctors and three mid-level providers in Watford City.

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