Sanford Health in Bismarck announced Tuesday they’re opening a new unit dedicated to COVID-19 patients, as coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths continue to rise in the state.

The announcement came on Nov. 17’s KX Conversation, where Dr. Michael LeBeau, president of Sanford Health, said the special care unit will add 20 beds for COVID patients inside the former Bismarck Surgical Associates building on 9th Street in Bismarck.

He said they have surge plans in place and will be moving nurses from non-emergency areas and clinical settings to help with the care.

When asked if he thinks they’ve hit “crisis” level, Dr. LeBeau said he believes so, and activating the surge plans is an “eye-opening experience.”

His message to North Dakotans?

“It’s important that our community takes this mandate seriously. We applaud the governor for the mandate, we look to try to slow the spread, limit the number of hospitalizations that come in. We’re still optimistic that if we make changes today we can decrease the spread, we can manage the hospital capacity, but if we’re going to make changes, today has to be that day.”

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