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Sanford hires 100 for electronic record switch

Health care application trainer Kaylin Ness answers a question for Stan Bjornstad as he and Lucinda Craft, at right, learn about the new software Sanford Health will be using for patient history information. Dave Wallis / The Forum

DILWORTH - Stan Bjornstad is returning to the classroom after a career that started with teaching and ended in business.

He'll be training staff at Sanford Health on a new electronic medical records software program - an initiative of almost $8 million to train 10,000 employees in the Fargo region.

Sanford is hiring 100 temporary positions, part time as well as full time, to help with the transition to its Sanford One Chart electronic records system.

The former Walmart here has been converted to a training center. It has been equipped with 30 classrooms that soon will see at least 300 Sanford staffers a day for training sessions.

"I retired in April and wanted to take the summer off," said Bjornstad, who was once a school teacher. "I wanted something to do in the winter."

When Bjornstad worked for an electrical supply firm, he was responsible for training, including three computer conversions. But learning medical nomenclature is something new.

Lucinda Craft of Barnesville, Minn., who recently graduated with a community health degree, is another trainer. She hopes the temporary job will be a bridge to something permanent. She's previously taught health classes for the elderly.

"It's a little overwhelming, but it's an amazing system when you get it down," she said of the software.

In its first round of hiring last week, Sanford filled 48 of the temporary positions, selecting more than 9 of every 10 applicants, said Caryn Hewitt, chief clinical information officer for Sanford's Fargo region.

"It's amazing, the candidates we got," she said. Three-quarters or more, she noted, have college degrees or even master's degrees. "So it says something about the economy."

The positions pay $10 an hour for what's called an application assistant. The job involves data entry as well as assisting with training.

A smaller number of training positions start at $15.78 an hour, but might pay higher in some cases, depending upon experience.

The conversion will take place in stages. Three Sanford sites already have switched to the new software system, which allows patients to access portions of their medical records.

The system will be phased in across the Fargo region starting in April and continuing through June.

The switch to Sanford One Chart is a $100 million investment for its entire health system over several years, said Dennis Hofer, Sanford Health's vice president of information technology.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Patrick Springer at (701) 241-5522