A second wind of health: New hospital in the works looks to improve health care convenience in Bowman

BOWMAN -- It is not every day a small town sees a brand-new, multimillion-dollar hospital being erected within its community. That's why the city of Bowman has reason to be excited. Work is underway for Southwest Healthcare Services's new hospita...

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The chapel on Southwest Healthcare Services’ campus rises above the construction for a new hospital. (Press Photo by Andrew Wernette)

BOWMAN - It is not every day a small town sees a brand-new, multimillion-dollar hospital being erected within its community.

That’s why the city of Bowman has reason to be excited.

Work is underway for Southwest Healthcare Services’s new hospital, which is being built near the site of the old one.

Once complete, the hospital will also connect Southwest Healthcare’s existing physical therapy, long-term care and clinic units under one roof. It will hold 23 beds, which will add to the long-term care unit’s 40.

“We’re looking at first quarter 2017 for completion,” said Matt Helleen, the project manager for Mortenson Construction, which is managing the project.


Helleen said the main structural steel for the project is in place, and after some more work the crew will begin enclosing the structure.

“We got a really good, well-rounded team of good subcontractors that Mortenson has worked with in the past that we feel very comfortable with on this project,” Helleen said.

He said the construction portion of the project will come out around $28 million. The architectural work was done by Washington-based Blue Room Architecture & Design.

Becky Hansen, the CEO and administrator of Southwest Healthcare, said it can be a challenge sometimes with staff and construction workers working within the same space, but noted that Mortenson has done well in minimizing disruptions.

Southwest Healthcare employs around 200 staff from the county and surrounding regions, making it one of Bowman County’s top employers.

Allison Engelhart, Southwest Healthcare’s marketing director, said a new facility is needed since the old hospital will be celebrating its 65th anniversary in May.

Hansen said the old facility is still functional, but it’s high maintenance, adding the directors figured it was more worthy to create a new building.

“We saw the need to become more efficient and co-locate onto one campus by building a new hospital,” she said.


Hansen said she began looking for funding for the new hospital in 2011, when she was chief financial officer. By 2014, it was finalized.

Much of it was funded by loans from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the Bank of North Dakota has taken on the 1 percent interest rate.

“We were very, very fortunate to have that program in North Dakota,” Hansen said.

Hansen said a large part of the funding is credited to its local community capital campaign, which contributed about $4 million.

She said there is an “amazing support structure” in the community.

Bowman County has also donated $2 million to the project. County Commissioner Rick Braaten said he sees the structure every now and then when he is in Bowman, and thought it was making good progress.

Braaten said he was born in the old hospital in 1957.

“They’re moving right along,” he said. “They’ve been working all winter long on it.”


Hansen said she and her colleagues are still undecided about the future of the old hospital’s main building, though they have had discussions about possibilities. The uniquely designed chapel will structurally remain as is, though Hansen said they have donations to renovate it for a separate project.

“It’s almost an iconic structure in Bowman because it was built so long ago in a unique way, and people want to see it stay,” she said.

Bowman Mayor Lyn James said the city is grateful that it has a developed health care system close to home.

“Just the idea that we have quality health care here is imperative to recruiting staff members for our businesses,” she said.

James also said it was a beneficial that residents only have to travel so far for health care services.

Hansen said everyone is looking forward to when everything at Southwest Heathcare is consolidated into one building.

“It’ll be nice for our residents just to roll down the hallway to see their doctor,” Engelhart said.

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