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Sen. John Hoeven is joined by Dr. Michael LeBeau, President and CEO of Sanford Health’s Bismarck region to discuss the development of Williston Square at a meeting April 7.

Sanford Health’s Bismarck region President and CEO Dr. Michael LeBeau visited the future site of Sanford’s new clinic in Williston, and shared his thoughts on what the Sanford’s presence will do for health care in the region.

LeBeau met with Williston city leaders and Senator John Hoeven at the former Sloulin Field airport, future home to Williston Square. Sanford announced in March that they had signed a Letter of Intent with the city build a new hospital and clinic, with an aim to have an agreement completed by Aug. 31. Construction is anticipated to begin late this year or early next spring, concluding as soon as 2024.

“We really believe that with the growing community and the growing region, we think Williston really deserves a full service regional hospital,” LeBeau told the Williston Herald. “Our goal is to bring new services to the area, and more services to the area.”

Sanford’s new hospital and clinic could have many effects on health care in the region, including effects on other health care providers. One such effect is on CHI St. Alexius Health Williston, which has been designated as a Critical Access Hospital. The designation is given to eligible rural hospitals by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. One qualification is that there are no other hospitals within 35 miles. CHI St. Alexius Health Williston released the following statement regarding the designation.

“The Critical Access Hospital designation provided by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is very important to rural health care. With the opening of another hospital, CHI St. Alexius Health Williston will lose this designation. Unfortunately, that could mean new challenges for rural health care. One thing that will not change is our 100 year commitment to the patients and communities we serve. We continue to care for those who are sick, deliver the next generation in our Birthplace and expand services to meet the needs of our community.”

LeBeau said Sanford identified some of the needs in Williston, such as more trauma service, more in-patient hospital service and more specialty services, which he believes Sanford will be able to provide.

“As we look at what we envision our hospital to be, it really is to be a full service hospital.” he said. “It’s medical sub-specialties, surgical sub-specialties, and really having the ability to do outreach to service this region from Williston.”

The results of a comprehensive health care assessment by the City of Williston showed that many residents sought health care outside of Williston in order to get specialized care they required. LeBeau said with Sanford joining the community, those residents should be able to remain right here in town.

“Our expectation of our Williston project is that it delivers care here in Williston. So now when people talk about traveling for health care in this region, they would picture traveling to Williston.” He explained. “So instead of bypassing Williston and traveling to one of the bigger centers, we see Williston being the hub and people traveling here for care.”

How much of Williston Square will be dedicated to Sanford is yet to bee seen. LeBeau said those details are still being worked out, but that the facility will be one project with two distinct structures, a super clinic and a hospital.

Sanford announced its initial community board for the new hospital, which will provide planning and development oversight of Sanford’s Williston operations and become the first hospital board upon project completion.

LeBeau said he is excited for the project to begin, and looks forward to Sanford Health becoming a part of the community, and hopes that Sanford’s presence will give residents comfort that they will be able to receive the specialized care they need locally.

“We hope that people understand our commitment to delivering health care to Williston and the region,” He said. “It’s very important to us to live by the mantra ‘Care close to home.’ We see great opportunity for growth, we see great need and we’re excited to work with city leaders and see their vision of what they hope Williston becomes.”

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