Population Growth Strains Hospitals

As more people move into the Bismarck-Mandan area, just about every industry is feeling the effects of the growth, including the medical community. It’s not just job seekers who are adding to North Dakota`s census. Babies are being delivered in rapid numbers in the capital city.

(Moe Bentz, Birthcenter One):  "We definitely are feeling some growing pains with the fact that our rooms are full. We’re shuffling patients. We’re asking for more help from our staff. We definitely have to work a little bit smarter nowadays.”

(Reporter):  Bentz says the birthing unit is on track to deliver about 100 more babies this year than last year. The hospital is looking at what days and times are the busiest so that more doctors and nurses can be brought in to cover those shifts.  Over at St. Alexius, it’s a similar story; more deliveries and more rural patients who are seeking specialized medical services, like for babies born premature.

(Rosanne Schmidt, St. Alexius Vice President Chief Nursing Officer):  "[We] work directly with the Williston area to bring those babies from here or anywhere in western North Dakota, for that matter.”

(Reporters):  But of course it’s not just babies who are stretching the workforce in Bismarck hospitals.

(Rosanne Schmidt, St. Alexius):  "We know that our population is aging, and also the baby boomers are starting to hit the age where they need some health care.”

(Dr. Craig Lambrecht, Medcenter One President and CEO):  "We see a lot of patients, people that are moving to Bismarck because they don’t want to live in Williston. They don’t want to live in Dickinson. They need a higher level of health care because of complex medical situations.”

(Reporter):  Gone are the days when Bismarck doctors would send droves of patients to hospitals outside of the state for specialized treatment. In fact, more patients are driving longer hours to get seen in Bismarck.

(Dr. Lambrecht):  "People are realizing for your heart surgery, you don`t have to go to Minneapolis or Mayo for the best outcomes. The best outcomes in the country are right here.”

(Reporter):  But hospital officials are quick to point out more needs to be done to accommodate the thousands of additional patients they’ve gained within the past decade.

Michelle San Miguel