Sanford opens new GI-focused building, prepares to grow fellowship

Medical Building 1 is back at Sanford Health — with a new use and room to grow.

The new five-story building on the southeast side of the Sanford USD Medical Center campus will start seeing patients later this month, with a focus on digestive health.

It takes the place of the decades-old former MB 1, which was demolished to make way for it, and brings hundreds of additional parking spaces to the campus.

“This project fulfills a lot of needs for us on campus,” vice president of operations Andy Munce said. “GI is definitely one of those service lines that has a lot of patient needs. Colon and GI cancers are being diagnosed at a higher incidence, and the age to get screened is going down, so it’s a huge community need.”

The facility also brings needed parking to the campus and will be filling in with new green space, including walking paths, “which will be nice,” Munce said. “That’s kind of the icing on the cake if you think about what we’re able to provide for the campus and community.”

The first four stories of the building hold 100 parking stalls each, leading to the fifth floor, which is a 40,000-square-foot space dedicated to gastroenterology that also includes hepatology.

There are 10 procedure rooms, 40 rooms for pre- and post-procedure care, 40 exam rooms and 31 physician offices. That sets up Sanford for growth, which includes the launch of a fellowship in GI, said Dr. Jeff Murray, the director of Sanford’s GI fellowship.

“The patients are going to have the best experience,” he said. “They come in and can stay out on the clinical side or go to the procedural side, and coupled with the parking, it’s going to be the best experience ever for a patient.”

The building also includes a new state-of-the-art simulation center where fellows or any Sanford team member can train on procedures.

“It’s very exciting — one of a kind in the country, really, and the only fellowship in the Dakotas, and it’s just the best model,” Murray said. “We can teach upper endoscopy, colonoscopy, advanced procedures in terms of removing colon polyps. I’ve used the machine, and it’s pretty amazing. Almost like a Cadillac.”

By next year, the country expects to be short 1,600 gastroenterologists, so the need to train and hopefully entice physicians to stay close to their fellowship is key, he said.

Sanford will have two fellows per year in a three-year program, so as it ramps up it will grow to six. The first fellow already has committed and has done an internal medicine residency at Sanford.

Colon cancer is the No. 1 cancer for men younger than 50. For women, it’s No. 2 behind breast cancer, Murray said.

“I’m seeing polyps in younger individuals I never saw in training,” he said. “It’s up to us to train gastroenterologists at this amazing facility to take care of patients in need of this service.”

More than 100 people will work in the building, and Sanford is continuing to recruit physicians and other staff for it, he said.

The building has been designed with an enhanced focus on ergonomics and safety for health care team members, and “it’s all state-of-the-art,” Murray added.

A ribbon-cutting will be held at 4:30 p.m. Monday, July 8.

MB 1 likely will see more construction in the future, Sanford leaders said. It’s designed to accommodate three additional stories that likely “would be other subspecialty services here on campus and fit with our strategy and vision of having the majority, if not all, of our subspecialties on campus,” Munce said. View the story at Sioux Falls Business.