Keeping a promise: Groundbreaking held for Sanford Health orthopedics, sports medicine center

BEMIDJI - Just over a year ago, Kelby Krabbenhoft promised the Bemidji community that Sanford Health was committed to expanding Sanford Bemidji Medical Center, predicting that a new orthopedics center was on the horizon.

Kelby Krabbenhoft, the president and CEO of Sanford Health, talks about the health care system's commitment to the Bemidji community during the groundbreaking Thursday of an incoming addition to Sanford Bemidji Medical Center. The addition will be a new 46,385-square-foot Sanford Orthopedics & Sports Medicine Center. Bethany Wesley | Bemidji Pioneer
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BEMIDJI - Just over a year ago, Kelby Krabbenhoft promised the Bemidji community that Sanford Health was committed to expanding Sanford Bemidji Medical Center, predicting that a new orthopedics center was on the horizon.

Krabbenhoft was in Bemidji again on Thursday as the community celebrated the groundbreaking for a 46,385-square-foot addition for the new Sanford Orthopedics & Sports Medicine Center.

"It's the potential not only for orthopedics but to build on promises for cardiology, oncology, women's and children services and beyond," he told a crowd gathered in the Peak Performance gym.

The orthopedics center is a $9 million construction project, part of a $1 billion system-wide plan to spend $200 million a year for five years on similar projects, according to Krabbenhoft.

"A hospital isn't a hospital in my mind unless there's a crane on campus," he said.


The Orthopedics & Sports Medicine Center will be a two-story building with room for six orthopedic surgeons, 16 clinic rooms, two X-ray rooms, expanded rehabilitation gym space, three additional rehab rooms and new locker room and shower space. It also will have expanded areas for children's therapy with gym space and sensory and treatment rooms.

It will centralize orthopedics and sports medicine into one place, replacing current facilities such as Sanford Bemidji Orthopedics Clinic (formerly Lake Region Bone & Joint).

"It will combine everything into one department," said Dr. Jason Caron, a Sanford Bemidji orthopedic surgeon and member of the Sanford Health of Northern Minnesota board. "It will provide collegiality."

Sanford Bemidji now has three orthopedic surgeons, but is "actively, aggressively" recruiting more, said Paul Hanson, the president and CEO of Sanford Health of Northern Minnesota.

"If we make a promise, we're going to fulfill that promise," he said.

The fulfillment of promises was an ongoing theme throughout the groundbreaking celebration. Hanson praised Krabbenhoft for staying true to his word, referencing a speech Krabbenhoft made in March 2010 as Sanford Health merged with North Country Health Services.

Krabbenhoft had then promised that within one year, Sanford Health would make a significant investment in orthopedics in Bemidji, Hanson said.

"We're here today to follow through with that promise," he continued.


Both Krabbenhoft and Hanson praised the work that was done by the North Country Health Services board, which underwent a visioning process to examine its goals for the future. That process led to a decision to seek a partner, eventually focusing on Sanford Health.

"Today would not have been so special had it not been for so many board members here thinking about what could be and what should be in this region," Hanson said.

Kraus-Anderson will be the general contractor on the roughly $9 million Orthopedics & Sports Medicine Center construction project. Hanson said construction will take 10-14 months, with completion expected next spring.

Krabbenhoft said Sanford Bemidji has strong connections with area colleges, universities and community members.

"So much so that we can plan and we can execute and deliver on the promises that will be going on right behind me," he said, referencing the future site of the orthopedics center. "This is not only about growth but it is also about expansion."

Orthopedics will be just the beginning, he said.

Next up, according to Hanson, will be additional facilities for cardiology, although a timeline has not yet been announced.

Not only was Thursday's groundbreaking celebration the fulfillment of a promise made, Krabbenhoft said, "I hope it's a day of expectations being raised."

Related Topics: HEALTH
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