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Posted 8/02/16 (Tue)

By Neal A. Shipman
Farmer Editor

Healthcare in McKenzie County has had several historic milestones in the past 60 years. The first was back in the 1950s when the McKenzie County Hospital moved into its new facility. The second was when the Good Shepherd Home, a long-term nursing home opened in the 1960s. While these facilities provided quality care for generations of McKenzie County residents, the need for more modern healthcare quickly became obvious as Watford City’s and the county’s population exploded over the past six years.
And now after years of planning for the new facility and securing financing, including a $58 million USDA loan, construction is set to begin this week on the McKenzie County Healthcare Systems, Inc. new 120,000 square foot, $75.4 million replacement facility.
In the 1950s and 1960s when the existing hospital and nursing home were constructed, the people of McKenzie County recognized the need for a locally-owned and controlled healthcare system and rallied together to raise funds to make those facilities possible. Today, the people and businesses of Watford City and McKenzie County have once again answered the call in making this new replacement facility a reality through their generous donations.
The new facility will combine the hospital, clinic and nursing home on a new site on the Good Shepherd Home campus. When completed in the spring of 2018, the facility will provide for a 24-bed critical access facility and will have nine emergency room treatment bays, while the new clinic space will provide for 12 exam rooms, as well as 12 other rooms for specialty clinics. In addition, the project provides for the construction of a new long-term care facility.
Patsy Levang, MCHS board of trustees president, was absolutely correct when she stated as the final pieces of the new healthcare system facility’s financing package came together, “We are at the start of something historic.”
As everyone knows, neither Watford City nor McKenzie County are the places that they were 10 years ago. Our population has multiplied ten-fold, if not more, in the last decade. And with that population growth, the demands on our school system, community infrastructure and healthcare system grew exponentially.
If Watford City is going to continue to grow and to attract new families, businesses and industries to our community, it needs to be able to offer a quality education system, a state-of-the-art healthcare system, and community recreation facilities. Just as the building of the new Watford City High School and the Roughrider Event Center were historic moments in meeting the education and recreation demands for the people of Watford City and McKenzie County, so is the building of this new replacement healthcare system.