WATFORD CITY, N.D. –- Sanford Health Watford City Clinic moved to a new and larger location this week on the campus of McKenzie County Healthcare systems because of added demand for care from the oil economy. North Dakota ranks only behind Texas as the second-largest oil producer in the United States.
The new clinic features 12 exam rooms, twice as many as the previous location. That added space will allow for future providers and specialty care.
Sanford Health has provided care in the oil patch city since 2015 and currently offers family medicine services, walk-in and specialty care, including cardiology, orthopedics, podiatry, pediatrics, and obstetrics and gynecology.
Chelsey Bulzomi, who grew up in Watford City and recently returned home after college in 2015, has seen the increased demand for rural health care firsthand.
“It was a town of 1,400 people and now, they’re just guessing, but it’s probably around 10,000 people,” said Bulzomi, who lives in Watford City with her husband and two daughters and still considers it a small town.
“It’s grown a lot, we have a lot of new amenities,” she said. “The new Roughrider Center, the new high school and, of course, the new hospital. But it’s still the same small town where the people are still friendly and everybody still cares about everyone, so it still feels like a small town to us.”
Fred Fridley, vice president of operations for the Bismarck Region of Sanford Health, said the clinic started years ago when the organization began a partnership with McKenzie County Healthcare Systems.
“We had the ability to come to town, but we had to come in with a modular clinic,” he said.
When Bulzomi and her husband, Monty, moved here in 2015, she was 20 weeks pregnant and started seeing Dr. Audrey McMacken, an OB/GYN at Sanford Health West Dickinson Clinic. But at that time, Bulzomi had to travel 90 minutes one way to Dickinson, North Dakota, for her appointments.
“Having the doctors come here to Watford City is a huge time saver for us with our busy schedules,” she said. “Also, in the winter it’s very nice not having to get on the icy roads. And also, with the girls at their young age it’s always nice to not have to travel with kids in the car.”
Bulzomi’s girls, Noelle and Amelia, are also seen in Watford City by Dickinson pediatrician Dr. Marc Ricks.
“It’s great having them here in town. You can tell they really care about the community as much as our local providers do,” she said. “To have those specialty services here to bridge the gap with our local hospital is a great service for this community.”
Sanford Health’s rural health care outreach is something that hits home for Fridley.
“It does mean lot for me, from a personal standpoint, but also from a community standpoint,” he said. “Growing up here we didn’t have access to pediatricians, cardiologists, orthopedic surgeons, OB/GYNs, and we had to travel outside of Watford City for all of those appointments. Now having the ability to bring those services here to this community is very gratifying for me personally. But it also makes me proud to be a Sanford employee and work for Sanford and bring these types of services to rural areas where in the past when I was growing up you had to travel no matter what.”