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Watford City, Stanley plan hospital upgrades

WATFORD CITY, N.D. — Hospitals are planning multimillion-dollar upgrades in two growing cities in western North Dakota’s oil patch.

McKenzie County Healthcare Systems plans to replace its hospital in Watford City with a $58 million facility. The Mountrail County Health Center in Stanley is upgrading its hospital emergency room and nursing home and expanding its clinic in a $6.3 million project.

Both projects are aimed at dealing with population growth tied to the oil boom in the region.

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

Emergency room visits in Watford City have increased five-fold since 2006.

“Historically, we might have seen traumas, one or two a month. That number is increasing to one or two traumas a week,” Kelly said.

The hospital hopes to get a $28 million loan from the federal Agriculture Department to go with an already approved $12.5 million loan from the state-owned Bank of North Dakota. Officials also plan to raise more than $15 million locally. Construction is to begin this summer, with the new hospital expected to be ready by 2016.

Demand for health care services also has grown in Stanley.

“Our service to the emergency room population has probably grown by 50-60 percent, and with that need comes the dramatic need for space,” Finance Officer Sue Weston said. “We have enclosed the ambulance bay for the convenience of the patients in the fall weather conditions. We are adding a CT scanner currently on site to help diagnose patients.”

Mountrail County Health Center also plans to add clinic exam rooms and upgrade the nursing home portion of the facility. The hospital is continuing to raise money and has not yet identified a completion date.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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