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Sanford Health upgrading Vermillion hospital

VERMILLION (AP) — Dakotas-based Sanford Health is embarking on an $11 million upgrade of its Vermillion hospital that will tear down a building built in 1935 and replace it with a new outpatient center.

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New facilities will be built for physical and occupational therapy, cardiac rehabilitation and laboratory radiology, Tim Tracy, Sanford Vermillion Medical Center's chief executive, told the Argus Leader.

The building to be demolished mostly is vacant, and the project retains the 25-bed acute-care hospital that opened in 1992.

"That's in very good shape," Tracy said.

Ownership of the property four blocks southeast of the University of South Dakota campus will transfer from the Dakota Hospital Foundation to Sanford when the construction is done, planned for 2018.

Sanford, then Sioux Valley, began managing the Vermillion facility in 1989 and entered a lease agreement in 1997, said Jesse Tischer, chief operating officer for the Sanford network. The agreement between Sanford and the foundation outlines the capital improvements and the ownership change.

"This is a progression. As we fulfill those obligations, it will become a fully integrated Sanford facility. We become the full owners," Tischer told the newspaper.

The Vermillion medical center is one of 39 hospitals in the Sioux Falls- and Fargo, N.D.-based Sanford system, which also includes clinics in 126 cities in nine states.

The Dakota Hospital Foundation organized in 1930 to open Vermillion's hospital and has been active since in promoting local health care. The foundation has raised money for scholarships, equipment, arts therapy, research and services such as placing defibrillators in public places.

Susan Tuve, the foundation's president, said the organization will continue that work, and getting out of debt was not the driving force behind the sale.

"I don't think any of us feel we're in the business of being a landlord and running a hospital," Tuve said.

The construction will be the hospital's biggest project in more than two decades.

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