Economic opportunity in North Dakota’s oil industry has brought an influx of workers to the state while also adding pressure to rural services such as health care.
The Tioga Medical Center campus, which serves northwestern North Dakota’s Divide, Williams, Burke and Mountrail counties, has seen a steady increase in patient numbers, from about 6,000 in 2010 to over 24,000 today.
First built in 1953 and expanded in 1985, the 7,300-square-foot clinic sits at the bottom of a more than 100-foot grade from the hospital. Because of water damage and age, the facility had several structural issues and could not be updated to accept modern diagnostic equipment. The physical location down the hill also made transferring patients to the hospital difficult, wasting valuable time in emergency situations. Increased caseloads associated with the new oilfield workers as well as the area’s aging base population have amplified these barriers to providing first-rate care in a timely manner.
USDA Rural Development provided a $6.5 million direct loan and a $1.5 million loan guarantee through the Community Facilities program for the construction of a new clinic, one that is attached to the existing hospital.
The new 15,000-square-foot clinic now under development will include 16 exam rooms, 6 provider offices, space for outpatient education, and adequate storage for medical records. The project also consolidates outpatient services and provides easy access to the radiology and laboratory departments located in the existing hospital. The steel frame of the new facility is sized to allow for a second floor to be added if additional space is needed in the future.
The Tioga Medical Center is the fourth largest employer in the area, only coming in behind three oil field companies. The expansion is slated for completion in 2015 and will allow for six additional health care jobs.