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Innovis to add beds, doctors in Fargo

Fargo's Innovis Health is going ahead with plans to add 18 beds in an expansion project intended as a bridge until the hospital can build a third wing.

The project, which awaits health building-code approval by state officials, coincides with plans to add five bassinettes to the neonatal intensive care unit.

"From our standpoint, we're ready to go as soon as we get the state signoff," said Kevin Pitzer, Innovis' chief administrative officer.

North Dakota health officials must determine that project designs meet national and state life safety codes.

The new medical-surgical beds, which would be housed in the third floor on Innovis' clinic side, will bring the number of beds to 104 from the current 86.

"This will give us inpatient capacity for the next three to four years," Pitzer said. "We're trying to maximize available space within the existing envelope of the building."

The projects' estimated cost is around

$4 million, Pitzer said. Longer-range plans still call for a new wing that could accommodate the incremental addition of about 40 beds, in the next three to five years.

As new beds come into use, nurses and other support staff also will increase, said John Rieke, Innovis' vice president of operations.

"As we add capacity, we will staff up accordingly," he said.

The increase in beds is to accommodate a steady rise in patient admissions, which have seen 14 percent annual growth since Innovis became part of Duluth-based Essentia Health, he said.

Innovis clinic visits also have been growing, by 8 to 9 percent annually.

Innovis opened in 2000 with 74 beds and added 12 beds five years later.

The growth in hospital admissions and clinic visits largely stems from an increase in physicians for the health system, which has seen a net gain of 30 doctors, Pitzer said, adding, "That is a lot of growth."

The increase in medical staff is across many disciplines and clinic locations, he added, and includes four hospital-care specialists and a second neurosurgeon.

In addition to primary care, medical areas targeted for growth at Innovis include neuroscience, cardiology, oncology and orthopedics, Rieke said.

Innovis administrators expect the growth to continue. They've signed a net increase of 16 more physicians who will be added in the next six to nine months.