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Sanford Health in Dickinson, N.D.
Sanford Health broke ground last month on a clinic in Dickinson, N.D., to meet the needs of a growing population driven by the oil boom.

Regional News/Midwest: Oil fuels N.D. healthcare boom

Oil-patch towns seeing spike in clinic, medical building construction


By Andis Robeznieks
Posted: January 5, 2013 - 12:01 am ET
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North Dakota's oil boom is leading to a corresponding healthcare building boom.

In the town of Dickinson, healthcare systems started construction on a new clinic and medical office building, and one of the systems is on the verge of replacing its existing 25-bed hospital with a new facility.

The U.S. Census Bureau calls Dickinson the nation's fourth fastest-growing “micropolitan” community, defined as areas with an urban core of at least 10,000 but fewer than 50,000 people. Two other oil patch boom towns, Williston and Minot, are the first and eighth on the fastest-growing list.

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The 2010 U.S. Census lists the city of Dickinson's population at almost 17,800. According to the Oppidan Investment Co., a Twin Cities-based property development firm doing heavy business in North Dakota, the city's population is expected to top 40,000 in 10 years. According to a report on the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis website, the Bakken oil field of North Dakota and Montana produced 21.1 million barrels of oil this past September—an increase of 60% from the previous year.

The number of workers in North Dakota's oil fields has more than quintupled, growing to 35,000 in 2012 from 4,500 in 2005. In its current biennium budget, the North Dakota Land Board has awarded $124 million to help the state's small towns adjust to fast growth, with the money used to widen roads, enhance emergency services and help schools facing rapid increases in enrollment.

Healthcare systems are also adjusting.

Sanford Health broke ground Dec. 16 on the new $20 million Dickinson Clinic. The facility is expected to be completed in the summer of 2014, with room for 20 physicians practicing family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics, obstetrics, gynecology and general surgery. There will be a walk-in clinic ambulatory surgery center, infusion treatments for cancer patients and space for mobile diagnostic imaging equipment, according to a Sanford news release.

Catholic Health Initiatives' St. Joseph's Hospital and Health Center, meanwhile, broke ground Jan. 2 for a 77,000-square-foot medical office building that will have space for 40 doctors. The facility is expected to be completed this fall. CHI also plans to start construction this spring on a new 105,000-square-foot replacement hospital expected to open in the fall of 2014.

According to a news release from North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple, the hospital will contain 16 emergency rooms, space for 25 acute-care patients, a rehabilitation center, urgent-care clinic, pharmacy, orthopedic clinical services and an ambulatory surgery center. The hospital and the medical office building will be connected and are on a campus of approximately 40 acres. The estimated cost of the hospital and MOB project is between $90 million and $100 million. St. Joseph's drew a $1 million pledge from Marathon Oil Co. in its drive to raise $15 million toward the project.


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