FARGO — Cobalt Rehabilitation Hospital has opened and is accepting patients. In fact, the first 20 patients will be admitted at no charge, an arrangement it's offering because it needs to treat that many to gain Medicare accreditation.

After two years of preparations that included delays to hire a medical director and its acquisition by Curahealth, Cobalt Rehabilitation is eager to let patients know that North Dakota's only stand-alone rehabilitation hospital has opened.

"We've been getting calls from people all across the state," said Karissa Olson, CEO of Cobalt Rehabilitation in Fargo. "They've been waiting for this to come. Now that we're open, we want people to know that Cobalt is a choice."

The 42-bed, $24-million hospital sits along Interstate 29 at 4671 38th St. S. It provides inpatient physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy. Therapists work with patients to regain their ability to walk, restore their sense of balance and coordination, speech and memory and swallowing.

Cobalt Rehabilitation Hospital, shown here on Wednesday, Sept. 25, has opened and is accepting patients. It is the first stand-alone, specialty rehabilitation hospital in North Dakota. Patrick Springer / The Forum
Cobalt Rehabilitation Hospital, shown here on Wednesday, Sept. 25, has opened and is accepting patients. It is the first stand-alone, specialty rehabilitation hospital in North Dakota. Patrick Springer / The Forum

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Therapy also will help patients perform activities of daily living, such as eating, grooming, bathing, dressing and cooking, and manage mobility at home with safe techniques.

Once Cobalt Rehabilitation Hospital gains accreditation from Medicare, it will seek to become a participating provider for all major insurance plans in the area. It has reached out to hospitals and health systems in the region.

"We've been in contact with a wide range of providers and health systems," Olson said. "We take patients from anywhere," she added, with a service area that includes all of North Dakota, northern South Dakota and Minnesota to the Twin Cities.

Patients must require nursing care, the oversight of a physician and physical, occupational or speech therapy, said Sarah Nordin, chief therapy officer.

"This is a service and an option that is new to this area," said Lisa Nagel, the hospital's pharmacy director, referring to its status as the only stand-alone, specialty rehabilitation hospital in the state. Families should understand "they can keep their loved ones in the area."

This story has been updated to make a correction. Cobalt is not North Dakota's first stand-alone rehabilitation hospital, though today is the only such hospital.