Sanford Health announced Tuesday, March 2, the company has signed a letter of intent with the City of Williston to build a new hospital and clinic at Williston Square, the former Sloulin Field Airport.
More than a hundred people, including those representing Williston, Economic Development, Sanford Health and more gathered at Sloulin Field’s former hanger to hear the announcement, which Williston Mayor Howard Klug said has been in the works for the last two years.
“We decided that we needed to do something to enhance the quality of life in Williston,” Klug said.
Dr. Michael LeBeau, president and CEO of Sanford Health for the Bismarck Region, told of how nearly two years ago to the day he spoke with Williston officials, beginning the journey that culminated in the day’s announcement that Sanford would be building in the Square.
“We’re excited to announce that we’re joining the community,” LeBeau said to cheers and applause.
LeBeau said after the first meeting he knew he Sanford would be a good fit in the community, saying that the city’s values of hard work, determination and doing the right thing are in-line with Sanford’s, and that the relationship Sanford formed with the city was integral to moving the plan forward.
“I can tell you we came all the way to today with just a handshake.” LeBeau said. “As we stand before you today, we stand committed to deliver high-quality care, close to home. We can’t wait to be part of this community.”
LeBeau said there is no timeline for when ground would break and construction would begin at this point, but that those meetings are already taking place, with plans to be announced at a later date. The first step for Sanford, LeBeau explained, is the formulation of a community board, which would work with Sanford to provide guidance on local health care priorities. LeBeau said Sanford has an “aggressive” timeline to have a board in place by April.
“To keep up with this team, you better be aggressive,” LeBeau said.
Access to health care has been priority of the Williston City Commission for the last few years. The city recently conducted a health care assessment, asking residents where they felt the greatest need lies. Time and time again many surveyed said that access to care without having to travel was a major priority, one which Klug said a new hospital and clinic will help solve.
“With this partnership between Sanford and the city of Williston, we’re going to bring what the citizens want to this community,” Klug told the Williston Herald. “It will have its bumps in the road of course, but to have that care here in Williston so people don’t have to wait anymore or drive out of town, that’s tremendous. During the last few years, I’ve lost a lot of friends, a lot of mentors in that 70 to 80 year old age range because they ended up somewhere other than where they needed to be, right here in Williston, North Dakota.”
Williston Economic Development Director Shawn Wenko said Sandford was the latest project coming to Williston Square, but that his office had been receiving many calls from interested companies and developers. The 800-acre piece of land has already signed two restaurants, with plans for a Civic Center, retail shopping, more restaurants and residential homes and apartments planned in the coming years.
Lt. Gov. Brent Sanford said health care is an important consideration when people decide where to move. A new hospital is a fitting addition to a city that serves as the hub of the Bakken oil play.
“Congratulations, this is another great day for Western North Dakota,” Sanford said. “Thank you very much.”
The Williams County Board of Commissioners has opened applications for $1 million in grant funding to support behavioral health in the county. Here is what you need to know about the grants.
1 Money comes from sales tax
The commission approved using $1 million collected as part of the 1% public safety sales tax. On Tuesday, March 2, the commission approved a second reading of an ordinance designating behavioral health as part pf public safety.
“Commissioners are using $1 million in proceeds from the sales tax to distribute as grant funds for behavioral health with the hopes of providing services closer to home for those that often have to travel to other parts of the state, or even out of state, to receive the care they need,” Lindsey Harriman, communications and research analyst for Williams County, wrote in a news release announing the grants.
2 Improving services at the core of the plan
The grants need to have a public purpose, meaning they benefit the residents of the county as a whole. In addition, the commissioners laid out a list of acceptable and unacceptable ways to use the money. Applicants can use money to pay salaries, expand telehealth options, tuition for training programs, transportation and the delivery of information about behavioral health, such as stigma, suicide prevention, anger management, or addiction.
The grant money can’t be used for something the applicant has already done or is currently doing, nor can it pay for furniture or equipment not directly related to expanding behavioral health services.
3 Distributing the money
In order to make sure at least two grants get awarded, the county has limited applicants to asking for no more than $500,000.
Applications must be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org by 5 p.m. CT March 16. The grants will be announced during the April 6 Commission meeting, and awardees will be notified after the meeting. After the money is set, the awardees have to provide written progress updates at three months, six months and one year. They also have to send itemized invoices within one week or the money being sent.
Projects can run over multiple years, but the applicants must seek the county’s permission first. Like the Public Safety sales tax grants, there will be a committee recommending projects for the full commission to approve.
For over a year, McVay Elementary in Williston has been giving back to the community by providing food, clothing and more for students in need. Now, the school is teaming up with a local business to give back even more.
Shayna Shriver with Wilmac Multidistrict Special Education was doing some work at McVay, and saw the need many students had for everyday items such as socks, coats and shoes. Knowing that McVay students, staff and its Principal Tonya Brenner had already spent more than a year providing those items, often at their own cost, Shriver decided to reach out to the Wise Penny in Williston to give McVay a little boost.
“Parents have been strapped due to COVID; there’s just no extra money.” Shriver told the Williston Herald. “The increase in need we saw in students, some even coming in with with wet socks because their shoes had holes in them; that’s really where it started.”
Shriver connected Brenner with Desaree Villers at the Wise Penny, who stepped up to provide more support than McVay could have imagined. Villers loaded up with coats, hats, gloves, backpacks, shoes and more for the school, with the promise that more would be coming when the students needed them.
“Because of the pandemic, you’ve got a lot of families struggling out there right now,” Villers said. “This takes a little bit more of that burden off their mind.”
Villers and the Wise Penny donated around seven large totes full of goods for the students. Villers said that when the totes are empty, she’ll refill them and bring them back to the school. Brenner said that other community partners have joined Villers in donating to the McVay’s “Clothing Closet,” which has expanded to become a bit of a food pantry as well.
“We’re super grateful for the community outreach and support for our students and families,” Brenner said. “I think it’s something that we’ve needed for a long time, and I’m glad we have the people here to push for it.”
Brenner said McVay social worker Charlie Hystad essentially runs the operation, working with McVay’s students and families to determine who may need assistance. Brenner added that if there are families in need, they can contact herself or Hystad at McVay Elementary.
Everyone in priority groups 1B and 1C is now eligible to sign up for a COVID-19 vaccination through Upper Missouri District Health Unit.
This includes but is not limited to childcare and school workers, any individual with one or more high risk medical conditions and essential workers along with anyone in the previous priority groups.
The announcement comes just two days after the UMDHU announced anyone with two or more qualifying health conditions could sign up for a vaccine clinic and one day after President Joe Biden announced all adults in the United States could expect to be vaccinated by the end of May.
Clinics are planned for Crosby, Stanley, Watford City and Williston. Currently, the UMDHU has the Pfizer vaccine, which requires two doses for total efficacy. The second dose is supposed to come at least 21 days after the first.
To register for a vaccine dose, people must visit https://vaccinereg.health.nd.gov. People without internet access can reach out to friends or family for assistance. The Williston Library and the Williston Senior Center and are also willing to help get people registered online. Masks are required for the clinic, and patients are asked not to come more than 15 minutes early for their appointment. Patients need to plan to stay for 15 minutes after receiving vaccine.
Doses received statewide: 254,159
Doses administered statewide: 232,079
Residents who have gotten at least one dose: 127,039
Statewide rate for one dose: 18.7%
Statewide rate for two doses: 10.6%
Williams County rate for one dose: 10.2%
Williams County rate for two doses: 6.5%
Divide County rate for one dose: 18.2%
Divide County rate for two doses: 14.9%
McKenzie County rate for one dose: 12.8%
McKenzie County rate for two doses: 6.9%
Mountrail County rate for one dose: 23.4%
Mountrail County rate for two doses: 10.1%