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January 20: Veteran's Hospital in Fargo

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Care for North Dakota’s veterans goes back to territorial days and early statehood. The North Dakota Soldier’s Home was built in Lisbon in 1890. As the veteran community in North Dakota grew, more resources were needed.

On this date in 1925, the Bismarck Tribune reported that a committee examining possible sites for hospitals in the tenth district, which included North Dakota, recommended building a 200-bed facility on Fargo’s north side. The site was intended to care for tuberculosis-infected veterans.

The purchase price set by the federal government for the land, was not to exceed $250 per acre, which is equivalent to $4200 today. The committee passed along the recommendation for Fargo as the site, and the article noted that the Bureau would act upon the suggestion to make a determination.

In 1926, the government did indeed purchase 50 acres of land on the north side of Fargo for the hospital. The groundbreaking took place in July of 1928, and the following June the 57-bed facility admitted its first patient. The building was dedicated on June 30. In attendance were General Frank Hines, director of the Veterans Bureau; and American Legion National Commander Paul McNutt.

Expansions to the original building took place in the 1930s, bringing the capacity to 184 beds. Additional construction on the campus occurred in the 1940s, including a new five-story structure, housing over 200 beds. This construction allowed the hospital to handle the growth of the veteran population from World War II and beyond.

What started as a lone hospital in Fargo expanded to a healthcare network that also includes clinics in Bismarck, Devils Lake, Dickinson, Grafton, Grand Forks, Jamestown, Minot, and Williston, serving the veteran population of North Dakota and northwest Minnesota.

The Fargo VA hospital has grown and adapted over the years, and is ranked among the leaders in the nation when it comes to patient satisfaction.

Dakota Datebook by Daniel Sauerwein

Sources:

Dakota Datebook is made in partnership with the State Historical Society of North Dakota, and funded by Humanities North Dakota, a nonprofit, independent state partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the program do not necessarily reflect those of Humanities North Dakota or the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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