Sanford pushes heart center construction to 2021

The initial ground breaking of Sanford Bemidji's Heart and Vascular Center has been postponed to 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic. Submitted art.

BEMIDJI -- Sanford Health is still planning to expand its campus footprint in Bemidji, but the coronavirus has changed its schedule around.

The spring months, when COVID-19 arrived in the state of Minnesota, was when Sanford Health of Northern Minnesota was going to break ground on its new 56,000 square-foot Heart and Vascular Center. Sanford's existing space for heart care in the Bemidji Medical Center had experienced 20% growth on an annual basis and reached capacity in 2019.

As a result, the healthcare provider announced its intention of building a new, $25 million facility. The proposed structure will have 19 clinic rooms, 11 diagnostic imaging rooms, education rooms, a cardiovascular recovery unit, a family room, and labs.

Susan Jarvis, president and CEO of Sanford Health of Northern Minnesota, said when the pandemic hit, the project was pushed to next year.

"We've decided to delay the groundbreaking of the building until spring of 2021," Jarvis said. "The heart and vascular center is attached to the main medical center, and the early phases of the new construction will require a good bit of construction worker traffic in the main medical center to tie in the mechanical systems."


As a result, Jarvis said the current space dedicated to heart care will continue to be full.

"With COVID-19, we did see a decrease early on in our volumes, in the clinic and somewhat in the hospital, too," Jarvis said. "We had a bit of a dip, but we're getting almost back to normal. So, we will be challenged with space in the heart and vascular arena."

Another construction project still ready to break ground in 2020, though, is Sanford Health's new crisis center on Hannah Avenue. The new $3.63 million facility, funded by the state of Minnesota and formed by a partnership with Beltrami County, will be built next to the existing PrimeWest Residential Support Center.

The 6,500 square-foot PrimeWest building opened in summer 2019, with $1.2 million in funding from the state and a $1.5 million investment by Sanford. The facility treats patients for mental health care and detox needs.

When the new building is opened, it will have eight beds and take over mental health crisis services that are now available at the PrimeWest facility. It will also be a location for mental health assessment and stabilization services.

"Because the behavioral center isn't adjacent to the main campus, we're still on track to break ground on that, probably in late summer or early fall," Jarvis said. "We're at the end of the planning stages and we're really excited about that facility. It has a pretty short construction timeline, so we should have it operational in early 2021."

Jarvis said there were also plans developed this year to improve the Emergency Room entrance and remodel the same-day Southeast Surgery Center this year, but both were paused. Jarvis said the ER entrance will still be worked on in 2021, while the surgery center will be remodeled later this year.

These upcoming projects follow a few others in the past 10 years. In 2013, the provider opened the $9 million, 46,385 square-foot Sanford Orthopedics and Sports Medicine Center. Then, in 2018, the $12 million, 20,500 square-foot Joe Lueken Cancer Center opened.

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