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BGH’s future bright as health services grow

From the Summer 2015 Issue

Photo by Chris Bessler

This summer’s opening of the new Bonner General Health Medical Office Building represents more than a growing community’s need.

This summer’s opening of the new Bonner General Health Medical Office Building – between Third and Fourth avenues at Alder in downtown Sandpoint – represents more than a growing community’s need for more services and space; it illustrates a nationwide trend in the health care industry as demand rises for outpatient services and decreases for inpatient care. Luckily for all of us who live in this relatively small community, Bonner General Health aims to stay in front of the curve.

The new 40,000-square-foot building is designed to better facilitate BGH’s outpatient services, including rehabilitation, an anticoagulation clinic, women’s health, a wound care clinic, blood draw services, plus physicians’ offices and much more.

“Everybody’s really excited about the new building, and it’s really going to help with our outpatient services,” said Sheryl Rickard, CEO of Bonner General Health. “It’s going to be a lot more convenient and offer lots more parking.”

Visitors, patients and staff will likely appreciate all of the little things that the building offers, as well: a covered drive-through where patients can conveniently be dropped off and picked up; well-lit facilities that usher in greater efficiency among staff; even the ability for patients to receive on-site aqua therapy in a rehabilitative pool without having to travel across town.

“Bonner General Health is providing exceptional care,” said Terri Fortner, director of Community Development and the BGH Foundation. “There are still some things where you need to go to a larger facility, but we can now offer things like an anticoagulation clinic, a wound care clinic. We have created some programs in response to community need. It’s done here, and it’s done well.”

Rickard added: “Our rehab services have been significantly growing; we are doing therapies that we’ve never been able to do before.”

Fortner emphasizes the point that having good medical care close to home is beneficial for everyone. “There is something to be said about being in your community,” she said. “It greatly reduces stress on a family not having to travel.”

The original hospital building on Third Avenue is now on the administration’s radar for upgrades and improvements. For some time, Bonner General Health officials were at a crossroads about which direction to go with the aging facility. “About four or five years ago, we recognized that we needed to do something with this building,” said Rickard. “It was built in 1973 when inpatient services were about 80 percent of our business; it was built as an inpatient facility. Now we’re sitting at 75 percent outpatient.”

Studies on the building’s infrastructure were initiated to assess the costs and improvements involved; this was done prior to the planning of the new Medical Office Building, when Bonner General Health officials were trying to decide which path to take. “We were looking at all those systems that were beginning to break, elevators and HVAC systems. Did it make sense to stay where we are, and sink money into this building, or to build a new hospital at a new location?” Rickard said.

Along with the infrastructure studies, BGH also talked to the physicians, staff and managers as well as community leaders. “Everyone wanted us to stay in downtown Sandpoint,” she said. “In order to do that, we knew we had to make changes to this building. About that time, the Taylor and Parker property came up for sale.”

A list of improvements is on tap for the original building. “The first thing that we need to address, after we get everything moved out, is our emergency room,” said Rickard. “We just need to fix the workflow issues and really expand. Our ER is really busy. Second priority is to consolidate the radiology department; it’s spread all over the first floor. It’s really confusing to our patients.”

Once those are completed, Rickard said the third priority is the second floor of the hospital: “We’d like to do some remodeling and move some things around, plus improve some efficiencies.” At the moment, there is no firm schedule to get that going right away, but it’s something BGH will be looking at in the future.

For now, BGH’s staff members are thrilled with the new medical space and the services it will be able to provide.

“It really is going to be a beautiful environment for care,” said Fortner. “We have the very best staff in the region, and it’s great to be able to elevate that aesthetic element.” 

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