ONEOK donates $1 million to new healthcare complex
By Stephanie Allums
Farmer Staff Writer
ONEOK Partners has made the single largest private donation that the McKenzie County Healthcare Systems, Inc., (MCHS), has ever received. And that $1 million donation is hoped to be a catalyst for other significant donations from oil companies doing business in McKenzie County, as the heathcare system begins construction of a new medical complex.
With McKenzie County’s population on its way to 22,000, McKenzie County Healthcare Systems, Inc., is on the brink of building a $59 million state-of-the-art medical complex to accommodate the growing needs and enhance outpatient and inpatient care.
Last week, ONEOK, a partner in the natural gas gathering and processing, natural gas liquids and natural gas pipeline business, announced their gracious donation of $1 million to the healthcare system plans for a new medical complex.
This is the single largest private donation given to the healthcare system, according to Dan Kelly, CEO of McKenzie County Healthcare Systems.
“This growing partnership between McKenzie County Healthcare System and the petroleum industry is a demonstration of the kind of care and concern the petroleum industry has for assisting MCHS in shouldering the load of providing exceptional healthcare delivery in our rural community,” MCHS Board President Patsy Levang said.
The MCHS Benefit Fund is headed by Kristin Bolken, the executive director. Their goal is to raise $15.5 million for the new medical complex.
Bolken said that ONEOK had mentioned in the past that they would like to help financially support the healthcare system. When the medical complex plans became reality, the Benefit Fund approached ONEOK and asked if they were still interested in helping.
“ONEOK wanted to be involved and offered $1 million,” Bolken said. “They have really set a precedence in the oil industry.”
Brad Borror, manager of Communications for ONEOK, said, “We are growing in the community as well, and we plan on being here for the long haul. We want to help the community in any way that we can.”
Borror also said it is part of ONEOK’s core values to help the communities which they are impacting. ONEOK employees are utilizing the healthcare system’s services, so it’s their duty to give back, according to Borror.
“The existing local businesses in Watford City and McKenzie County have been generous to the healthcare system,” Benefit Fund President Myra Anderson said. “But it’s the oil that has expanded the community and we are looking to them for financial support.”
Within a few days of ONEOK announcing its donation, other financial commitments began coming in from other oil companies.
“Following ONEOK’s $1 million leadership gift, commitments for significant contributions have been received from Hiland Partners, BakkenLink, LLC, and Halcon,” Levang said. “The aggregate of these donations is $695,000.”
The Benefit Fund is grateful for the support they have received and looking forward to additional offers to assist the medical complex’s construction.
“McKenzie County is perhaps the epicenter of the current population growth in western North Dakota,” Governor Jack Dalrymple said. “As the state continues to make significant investments to enhance emergency services, public and private investments in projects such as this are important ways to ensure the needs of the community are met.”
Dalrymple said the Bank of North Dakota has offered a $12.5 million loan for the McKenzie County Healthcare System.
Other funding for the medical complex will come from the USDA Rural Development, the McKenzie County Commission, and possibly, the Roughrider Fund.
The two-story facility will be approximately 100,000 square feet, with 10 emergency bays, a clinic, inpatient and outpatient sections, X-ray and lab areas, as well as surgical rooms and private resident suites for the community’s aging population who need a nursing home.
According to Kelly, the first floor will house the clinic and surgical areas. The second level will house the inpatient care, labs, X-ray rooms and suites.
“We have designed this medical complex with efficiency in mind,” Kelly said. “And we have been cost-effective with spending our dollars.”
The ground-breaking ceremony for the medical complex is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. on Friday, June 27, outside of the Good Shepherd Home facility. This event will occur in coordination with the Watford City Centennial Celebration.
Speakers will include Dan Kelly, MCHS CEO; Mayor Brent Sanford; North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem; McKenzie County Commissioner Chairperson Ron Anderson; a Bank of North Dakota representative, Roughrider Fund Chairperson Jody Renbarger; USDA Director Jasper Schnider; Benefit Fund of MCHS Board President Myra Anderson; MCHS Board of Trustees Chairperson Patsy Levang; and North Dakota Governor Dalrymple.
“It’s been a pleasure to watch everything come together for this project,” Kelly said. “Everyone has really worked as a team.”