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First Cardiology Procedures Performed at Sanford Bemidji Tremendous Success

A team of medical specialists at Sanford Bemidji successfully completed its first three cardiac catheterizations procedures

(Bemidji, MN) – A major milestone was met in Sanford Bemidji’s journey towards accomplishing its vision as a premier regional, innovative, rural health care delivery organization. A team of medical specialists at Sanford Bemidji successfully completed its first three cardiac catheterizations procedures.

“It is a wonderful thing to have happen to this community,” said Dr. Jeffrey Watkins, interventional cardiologist at Sanford Bemidji Clinic, “and it was accomplished through teamwork with a large group of very supportive people working together.” A 20-person team of imaging, surgical and cardiology professionals representing Sanford Health in both Fargo and Bemidji have been carefully planning for several months to assure the safe and successful initiation of this groundbreaking program.

“This is a visible demonstration of the commitment Sanford Health made to this region when we joined the Sanford family,” stated Paul Hanson, president of Sanford Health of Northern Minnesota. “We talked a lot during the affiliation discussions about the synergy between the clinic and hospital, and what we could accomplish should we come together.  Sometimes its what you bring together that sets you apart,” added Hanson.

The launching of cardiac catheterizations in Bemidji is just the first step in the culmination of years of community aspirations for a local cardiology program. “We are limiting our services to catheterizations to start, but will move very soon to doing cardiac stents,” stated Watkins. We are aggressively recruiting additional cardiologists so we can have expanded coverage, and have plans to build a dedicated cardiology center in the next 18-24 months.

Prior to the implementation of the new cardiology service, patients were required to travel to larger tertiary medical centers for this diagnostic service. “Patients and their families are extremely grateful to be able to get this kind of service close to home, near family and friends,” stated Shirley Heintz, chief nursing officer at Sanford Bemidji.

About Sanford Health
Sanford Health is an integrated health system headquartered in Fargo, ND and Sioux Falls, SD and consists of two long-standing organizations that merged in 2009. Sanford is now the largest, rural, not-for-profit health care system in the nation with locations in 112 communities in seven states. In addition, Sanford Health is in the process of developing international clinics in Ireland, Africa, Israel and Mexico.

Sanford Health includes 34 hospitals, 116 clinic locations and more than 900 physicians in 70 specialty areas of medicine. With more than 20,000 employees, Sanford Health is the largest employer in North and South Dakota. The system is experiencing dynamic growth and development in conjunction with Denny Sanford's $400 million gift in 2007, the largest gift ever to a health care organization in America. This gift is making possible the implementation of the several initiatives including global children's clinics, multiple research centers, eradicating breast cancer and finding a cure for type 1 diabetes. For more information, visit

Lindsey Wangberg | Regional Marketing Manager | Sanford Bemidji
(218) 333-5040 |