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Sanford, Altru growing in East Grand Forks

Sanford Health has been touting expanding services and staff at its East Grand Forks clinic with an eye toward bolstering its patient volume in this market.

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Sanford Health has been touting expanding services and staff at its East Grand Forks clinic with an eye toward bolstering its patient volume in this market.

The clinic has had 10-percent annual growth in volume, according to Director Justin Stromme.

The health care chain, headquartered in Fargo and Sioux Falls, S.D., has introduced a new marketing campaign emphasizing areas of focus, including women's health care in East Grand Forks.

"We're constantly evaluating what we hear patients want locally," Stromme said. "There will be expansion in East Grand Forks."



As Sanford grows, Altru also has been adding physicians and increasing its capacities in the wider region.

Sanford's clinic has a staff of 40, including five family physicians, a physician assistant and nurse practitioner, Stromme said. It will add a sixth family physician in September. The clinic also has 16 doctors who are not based at the clinic but see patients there.

With the addition of an obstetrics and gynecology doctor in August, the clinic will have added five new doctors who see patients there. At the same time, the other visiting doctors are increasing the days they use the clinic.

Sanford also is embarking on a marketing effort to emphasize five key areas of services: cancer, children, heart, orthopedics and sports, and women. Recent ads for the East Grand Forks clinic focused on women's services.

"We're definitely bringing services in, and not just for women," Stromme said.

The clinic also has added physical therapists in the last year and increased its occupational medicine services, such as physicals and drug screenings.


Sanford's expansion in East Grand Forks presents opportunities for the system to gain patients in this market whose relationship with primary care providers could lead to their use of larger Sanford facilities in the region, including hospitals in Fargo, Bemidji and Thief River Falls.


"We strongly believe the continuity of care is extremely important," Stromme said. "There's a great value in that for patients."

Stromme said the clinic's yearly growth in patient volume is around 2,000 patient visits a year, or 10 percent.

"With the addition of a new family physician in September, that's to accommodate growth in patient volume," Stromme said.

Grand Forks' main health care provider, Altru Health System, also has been adding doctors, signing 53 physicians this year and next year in a number of specialty areas.

Chief Operating Officer Brad Wehe said the system also was expanding its outpatient center in East Grand Forks, where it plans to add new specialties and specialists.

The system also will increase its renal dialysis services at its locations in Devils Lake, Crookston and Roseau, Minn., in part to decrease congestion at its main facility in Grand Forks by reducing the need for regional patients to travel.

"We have growth within Grand Forks and within the region," Wehe said.

Altru's expansion is driven by competition for market share and a goal to reduce wait times for patients to get appointments, which in turn prevents patients from going to other providers, Wehe said.


"It's definitely both," he said. "We can see how that line forms in the sense of patients trying to get in."

Reach Bjorke at (701) 780-1117; (800) 477-6572, ext. 117; or send e-mail to cbjorke@gfherald.com .

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