FARGO, N.D.— Sanford Health broke ground last week on its $541 million Sanford Fargo Medical Center. The 1.2-million-square-foot, 460-bed facility is considered one of the largest healthcare construction projects that will start this year, and Sanford used the occasion to hold a celebration for employees that included a performance by the band Train as well as fireworks and remarks by North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple. The new 10-story facility is scheduled to open in 2016 and will cover almost 30 acres. It will include 347 clinical exam rooms and 77 procedure rooms, according to a Sanford news release. North Dakota is experiencing an oil-related economic and population boom, and Sanford reports that its existing Fargo facilities saw a 9% increase in hospital admissions in 2011 and an 8% increase in emergency visits in the past year. According to the release, “after continued evaluation of local market needs,” Sanford decided to increase the size of the project, which at one time was projected to be built with 371 rooms at a cost of $360 million. Sanford is a 20-hospital integrated system and has maintained dual headquarters in Sioux Falls, S.D., and Fargo since it merged with the North Dakota-based Meritcare Health System in 2009. Sanford recently announced it would invest $200 million in western North Dakota, and its plan calls for building a “superclinic” in the city of Dickinson that would offer ambulatory surgery and diagnostic services. JEFFERSON CITY, Mo.—
The Missouri Supreme Court ruled that the state Legislature’s $350,000 cap on noneconomic medical malpractice damages is an illegal violation of residents’ constitutional right to a trial by jury. A divided court on July 31 overturned the court’s own 20-year-old decision to uphold caps on noneconomic damages. The court ruled that the mother of Naython Watts, who was born in 2006, was entitled to the full $1.45 million in noneconomic damages that a jury awarded her after concluding that physicians for Cox Medical Centers provided negligent care. The trial judge reduced the jury’s verdict to $350,000, as required by state law. The boy’s mother, Deborah Watts, appealed, saying the caps violated the state constitution. Attorneys for Cox Health argued in court that a 1992 decision from the Missouri Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of 2005 tort reforms limiting medical malpractice awards for claims such as pain and suffering. But Chief Justice Richard Teitelman said the previous ruling was wrong, citing similar court decisions to overturn legislative malpractice damage caps in states such as Washington (1989), Oregon (1999), Alabama (1991) and Florida (1987). Teitelman wrote that the cap on damages violated citizens’ “inviolable” right to a jury trial under the state constitution by removing a jury’s ability to decide the magnitude of damage. Cox Health officials said they were disappointed in the decision. “Nearly every physician and every hospital in the state will be adversely affected by this ruling,” Cox Health said in a statement. “Our greatest concern lies with how this will affect physicians in our state.” HUNTLEY, Ill.—
Centegra Health System, Crystal Lake, Ill., received state approval for a planned 128-bed hospital in Huntley. The approval came after the board voted last year to deny the plan twice, and it’s the second new hospital that’s not a replacement facility that the board has approved in 30 years. The other was Adventist Bolingbrook (Ill.) Hospital, which was approved in 2004 and opened in 2008. Plans for the Huntley hospital, Centegra’s third, call for a six-floor facility that would cost $232.2 million and open in 2015, according to Centegra’s application to the Health Facilities and Services Review Board. The board approved the certificate of need 6 to 3. “Residents of southern McHenry County and northern Kane County need better access to hospital care, and the state recognized that,” Centegra Health System CEO Michael Eesley said in a news release. System officials say population projections for the area support the need for a new hospital. Centegra first brought the proposal to the state board in 2000. Advocate Health Care, Provena Health and Alexian Brothers Health System all voiced opposition to the board, saying the proposed hospital would be too close to their facilities. The hospital will be built at an existing Centegra health and wellness campus. It will include 100 medical surgical beds, an eight-bed ICU, full emergency department with a Level II trauma center, Level II special-care nursery and noninvasive cardiology services.
Employees break ground for the Sanford Fargo Medical Center, one of this year’s largest healthcare construction projects.