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Sanford clinic in Devils Lake to open March 1

The clinic is located on the Devils Lake Eventide campus, and will offer family medicine, physical therapy, cardiology and dermatology services.

Devils Lake sign .jpg
A sign welcomes guests to Devils Lake, N.D. (Grand Forks Herald)
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DEVILS LAKE — The Sanford Health Devils Lake Clinic is scheduled to open on Tuesday, March 1.

The clinic is located on the Devils Lake Eventide campus, and will offer family medicine, physical therapy, cardiology and dermatology services. Lab and imaging services also will be available.

Justin Stromme, senior director of clinic operations for Sanford Health, says these services are just the start of Sanford services in Devils Lake.

“Our goal over the next six to 12 months is really to identify services that members of the community and our patients in particular are looking for, with a goal of bringing care close to home for the community of Devils Lake,” said Stromme.

Bringing care close to home has been a hot topic lately in Devils Lake, after Mayor Dick Johnson last month publicly called for a unified health care model in the community . One of his reasons was what Johnson believes are deteriorating conditions of the town's hospital, which limit the services provided in town.

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“The conditions in the operating rooms have been described as 'unfit' by physicians. Procedures that should and can be performed locally have been moved to facilities out of town,” Johnson wrote in a letter sent to the Grand Forks Herald and other media.

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Devils Lake was at 1,447.2 feet above sea level before spring runoff, and the predictions call for the lake to rise to 1,451.7 feet.

Stromme says this need also has been communicated to Sanford by Devils Lake residents and community leaders.

“We’ve had really good communication with some of the community leaders regarding opportunities that they see for services based on the size of the community of Devils Lake, and we feel that over time and through those conversations, we’ll be able to better meet the needs and expectations for the services that they should have,” he said.

Sanford’s goal is to bring more services to the community in the future, he says, some of which could include vascular surgery, general surgery and other specialty care.

“We don’t want patients traveling to Fargo, Grand Forks or any of those bigger communities when they don’t need to, and there appears to be a lot of that happening currently,” Stromme said.

The opening of the Sanford clinic on Tuesday will mark the entry of a third general health care provider in Devils Lake, but Johnson has raised concerns about the relationship between existing providers CommonSpirit Health, which runs the hospital, and Altru Health, which runs a clinic. When asked if he is worried about how Sandford will fit into the mix, Stromme said he is mainly focused on the opportunities for a Sanford clinic in Devils Lake.

“We’re happy to have conversations with the other organizations in the community with the goal, ultimately, for all of us to make sure that a community the size of Devils Lake has the facilities and services that they should have,” Stromme said. “We are committed to that and committed to those conversations.”

In December, Altru announced it intends to purchase land to build a hospital in Devils Lake , which would bring Johnson’s vision of unified care to fruition. But, with Sanford opening a clinic in Devils Lake, will it consider opening hospital services there someday? According to Stromme, it's not out of the question.

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“We’re certainly part of those conversations,” said Stromme. “We strongly believe in our integrated model that we have in many communities.”

He gave examples of Sanford facilities in Mayville, North Dakota; Hillsboro, North Dakota; and Thief River Falls, Minnesota, that have integrated clinics, hospital services and surgical services.

“I am from Devils Lake, and as I listen to my friends and family talk about their frustrations, I think a lot of it really does stem from a lack of integration that I see in those other communities,” he said. “I think Sanford Health certainly wants to be a part of that conversation on what that integrated facility of that model would look like and see if we can get to that point.”

After Johnson’s call for a unified model in the community, Altru spokeswoman Annie Bonzer reaffirmed Altru’s commitment to Devils Lake.

"In July, we shared our deep and long-standing commitment to the health care in Devils Lake. We acknowledged then that there was a substantial opportunity to enhance services in the community, and that a unified health care model was the best way to do that. We are committed to seeing that model through, which is why we announced our intent to purchase land for a future hospital facility this November,” she said.

Ingrid Harbo joined the Grand Forks Herald in September 2021.

Harbo covers Grand Forks region news, and also writes about business in Grand Forks and the surrounding area.

Readers can reach Harbo at 701-780-1124 or iharbo@gfherald.com. Follow her on Twitter @ingridaharbo.
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