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Welcome new clinics to oil cities

Leaders of Williston, N.D., should act quickly to modify a city moratorium on mobile businesses in order to welcome Sanford Health’s “clinics on wheels.” Sanford, which has emerged as the most innovative health care provider in the Upper Midwest, is ready to deploy two mobile clinics in oil country as part of its O.P.C. mobileMED. The units will travel to locations in North Dakota’s Bakken oil region.

In the context of soaring demand for basic health services, Sanford’s initiative is brilliant. The Fargo- and Sioux Falls, S.D.-based health care company has invested millions of dollars in two Oil Patch mobile units. They will be welcomed most everywhere in oil country because health care services are being stretched to the max. Williston has to make changes in its mobile business restrictions if the city wants its residents to have access to what certainly will be top-quality and needed basic health care services.

The project also involves a modular clinic in Watford City, one of oil country’s fastest-growing towns. The need for more health care access there is obvious.

Williston’s mobile business moratorium is designed to protect traditional brick-and-mortar businesses, and to prevent fly-by-night food vendors and other operators from setting up shop on city streets. At first glance, the restrictions are sound. But Sanford’s mobile health care project is not in either targeted category. The company identified a need and developed a strategy whereby health care can be delivered quickly and at reasonable cost. In that light, Williston and other oil country cities that restrict mobile businesses should carve out an exception.

When it comes to health care delivery, government agencies can’t fill the yawning gaps in oil country. The stressed system needs private health care providers that have the expertise and motivation to expand into underserved communities. That’s what Sanford’s state-of-the-art units can do, but only if oil country communities modify mobile business restrictions.