Fundraising Projects

The Sanford Health Foundation of Northern Minnesota was revitalized in the early 1990s with the goal of strengthening and enhancing healthcare services in our region.  Since that time significant progress has been made towards that goal.  The Foundation supports and promotes community healthcare services in partnership with Sanford Health of Northern Minnesota in the achievement of its vision and mission.  The Foundation exists to ensure that state-of-the-art medical services, facilities, and technology are available in the Bemidji region.  The following are some of the successful projects that exemplify this progress.


Our Latest Project: Builds on our world class cancer care here at home.   So many people across our region have been touched by cancer, either fighting it themselves or watching friends or family members endure their own battles. The Sanford Health Foundation of Northern Minnesota is embarking on a Cancer Center campaign to establish an accredited, comprehensive cancer center with expanded facilities and technology, enhanced treatments and care, and survivorship programs – all under one roof.  Your gifts will help ensure expert care is available right here, so cancer patients can be close to home and to their own support system of family and friends.


Past Projects:

Kidney Dialysis Project:  Before a dialysis unit was available locally, patients were forced to move from the community or travel as far as 100 miles one way, several times a week to receive dialysis.  The Foundation and its donors contributed significantly to the establishment of kidney dialysis services in Bemidji and continued to support the expansion of the current dialysis unit.

Pediatric Care Area:  The hospital serves approximately 250 children annually and in the past those patients were cared for in several departments.  The donors' support enabled the hospital to establish a family-centered pediatric care area and to purchase equipment designed for children. 

Senior Care Projects:  Donors contributed to help replace outdated manual beds with modern electric beds and to provide residents with a secure outdoor courtyard.  These projects bring comfort, safety, and dignity to residents at Neilson Place.  

Cardiac Rehabilitation Project: 
This project supported construction and equipment for an expanded Cardiac Rehabilitation Department.  This department serves over 200 patients a year, helping them to reduce cardiac risk and resume a normal life.  Donations also funded an informational campaign to increase community awareness of cardiac symptoms and the importance of quick response.  Over 40 percent of the deaths in our region are caused by cardiac problems and this enhancement of cardiac services provided many benefits focused on treatment and education.

Sanford Bemidji Hospice:  It is estimated that more than 80 percent of Americans want to die at home when the time comes.  Hospice care makes this possible.  Because of low reimbursement, hospice organizations around the country rely on donations to cover costs.  Sanford Bemidji Hospice continues to be an important community service that receives ongoing gifts from community donors through the Foundation.

Hospital Expansion & Neilson Place Construction:
  In 2001-2005, the Foundation raised over $5 million in philanthropic support toward the hospital's patient care expansion and remodeling project, as well as construction of a new long-term care facility, Neilson Place.

Endovascular Suite:
  Although limited endovascular services had been available at the hospital since 2004, the new endovascular suite further enhanced services and provided a specialized suite with state-of-the-art equipment to care for more patients here at home.                                                                

Giraffe Bed and Heart Monitor: "What is a Giraffe Bed?", you ask. It is an enclosed environment for at-risk newborns to better control their body temperatures, monitoring, and the influence of environmental factors like light and noise.  It is "state-of-the-art" and highly recommended for modern family care settings.  The infant heart monitor is a special attachment to the bed that was also purchased due to generous community donations. 

Intensive Care Unit Defibrillator:  Cardiac defibrillation has been around since 1899 with many advances since that time to stop a person’s out-of-rhythm heartbeat, stabilize an erratic heartbeat, or serve as a temporary pacemaker.  In 2008, an upgraded system was purchased from generous gifts.  The new equipment offered ease of use for staff and more functions than the current equipment.

Excellence in Healthcare:  It was our dream to take our guests’ experience to a whole new and exciting level.  The innovative technology and care products of this project enhance safety and offer a more enjoyable visit, whether you are a patient, resident, family, or friend. The components of this project were:

  • GeneXpert equipment for the hospital’s lab offering fast and accurate results within 90 minutes for MRSA, Group B strep for expectant mothers, and H1N1 influenza  
  • Hospital Room Renovations updating 30-year old hospital rooms
  • Spoken Menu software and equipment to allow hospital patients food choices electronically while providing for accurate dietary guidelines, and dietary staff efficiency
  • Internet kiosks placed throughout the hospital to offer access to family, visitors, and patients for communicating with loved ones or researching a recent diagnosis
  • Indoor and outdoor Healing Gardens to offer tranquil spaces for family, visitors, and patients during the healing process
  • Same Day Surgery TVs for family and patients in pre-operative waiting rooms

Digital Mammography Unit:  With the addition of digital mammography equipment at Sanford Bemidji, we have powerful technology providing clear and precise images to diagnose breast cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, approximately 54,000 new cases of beginning stage breast cancer are diagnosed each year. It is most often detected through regular self-examinations and annual mammograms. At Sanford, we believe that yearly mammogram screenings are vital in the fight against breast cancer.  A mammogram can reveal breast cancer up to 2 years before it is large enough to be felt.  With digital, the images are clear and easy to read on a computer screen. Physicians can zoom in on any particular location of the image. Exams are quick and efficient with few retakes. Test results are faster with images ready in 10 seconds, there are no longer wait times for films to be developed to be sure the images are usable. If a second opinion is needed, the images can instantly be sent electronically to a consulting physician.  There is improved patient convenience and decreased cost due to fewer call backs for additional screenings that were sometimes necessary with the old style film images.  

Advanced Cardiology Services:  When you’re having a heart attack, every minute matters.  Now with a dedicated, 24-hour Heart and Vascular Center in Bemidji we are able to put critical cardiac care within reach of 100,000 people in our area.  “There is no question this will save lives,” said Dr. Jeffrey Watkins, cardiologist at Sanford Bemidji.
The Miracle of Robotics Surgery:  The da Vinci® robotic system offers advanced surgical  technology for a variety of surgical procedures.  This minimally invasive surgical system provides patients the benefits of fewer and smaller incisions, less blood loss, and faster recuperation.