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No big open for multimillion-dollar hospital project in Thief River Falls

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Despite spending $60 million on a new medical facility in Thief River Falls and trumpeting its debut, Sanford Health is delaying the hospital's grand opening, which was scheduled for Wednesday.

With a plan to relocate operations from Sanford's downtown hospital to the freshly built 136,000-square-foot site, the new facility will be something of a one-stop shop for Sanford's patients. Called the Sanford Thief River Falls Medical Center, the site will have a clinic offering over 30 specialties, emergency room and urgent care services, pharmacies and a rehabilitation center, the Fargo Forum reports.

There was an open house for the public on Saturday, Sept. 20., with the health provider inviting visitors to enjoy guided tours, refreshments, and "activities for children of all ages."

But even friendly, state-of-the-art hospitals are subject to administrative realities and regulatory snags.

Sanford officials said Monday that a licensing issue with the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services has led to an indefinite delay of the relocation, writes Thief River Falls Radio. Brian Carlson, Chief Executive Officer of Sanford Thief River Falls, emphasized that the problem is not related to patient care and described it as "an administrative compliance issue related to how the (hospital's) license is written."

The compliance issue, according to Thief River Falls Radio sources, has to do with the hospital's Mental Health Division. The Mental Health services, while not part of the relocation, were to be expanded within the same timeframe as Sanford's other Thief River Falls facilities. The specific nature of the mental health compliance problem is not clear.

However, the brand-new hospital doesn't sit empty – some parts of the facility are available. Sanford began providing clinical services on Monday.

Only hospital services – such as emergency medicine and inpatient care – have been affected by the delays, and until the delays have been cleared up, those same services will be available at the old downtown location, the Forum says.

Sanford Health's website says the health provider has been in Thief River Falls since 2007.

Officials have not announced a new opening date for the hospital complex.

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