As southwestern Montana grows, especially the Bozeman area, the services need to expand with it. Kudos to Bozeman Health for seeing the future needs of the community now.
Bozeman Health plans $75 million expansion, increase in intensive care
By Katheryn Houghton Chronicle Staff Writer Apr 11, 2018
Bozeman Health Deaconess Hospital has plans for a $75.5 million expansion to create southwest Montana’s first infant intensive care unit and boost existing services.
Bozeman Health President John Hill said the expansion includes a women’s and children’s center and will more than double the size of the hospital’s current intensive care unit. Construction is scheduled to begin late this year.
Hill said it’s part of an effort to ensure people can get treatment without traveling far from home.
“Today is yet another example of our commitment to grow with our community,” he said during a ceremonial groundbreaking Wednesday at the hospital’s campus.
No plans for the project have been filed with the city yet.
Dr. Pepper Henyon, a pediatrician with Bozeman Health, described the stress she’s watched parents go through when they hear their baby is sick and needs care somewhere else.
“Consider how it would be if your new baby had to be emergently flown to a hospital in a different town … to receive life-saving treatment,” Henyon said.
The plans include a three-story, 30,000-square-foot building with administrative departments on the first floor and an ICU on the second. The third floor will act as shell space for future growth.
An existing hospital building will be converted into a hub for women and children. That building, called Medical Office 4, currently houses physician practices.
Hill said the new ICU will bump up the hospital’s current eight-bed unit to 20. It will also increase room sizes from 150 square feet to 300.
“If any of you have spent time in our ICU, you’ll know that it’s small but the care is exceptional. That has served us well since 1986,” he said. “We’re excited to be looking at expanding that into a modern state.”
Hospital officials say they’ll send plans for the expansion to Bozeman planners next week. Construction also includes renovating the hospital’s main entrance.
Last year, Deaconess Hospital had 31,559 emergency department visits and delivered 1,234 babies.
The hospital is a Level III Trauma Center. That’s out of five categories. In an over-simplified explanation, the higher the level, the more extreme cases the hospital can take before a patient needs treatment elsewhere.
Bozeman Health is a Level II Nursery. That’s out of four levels with one being basic newborn care and four offering the highest level of treatment.
Bozeman Health doesn’t have neonatologists on staff but plans to add neonatology and maternal-fetal-medicine to its staff. It also plans to partner with regional subspecialists.
Montana Gov. Steve Bullock also attended Wednesday’s ceremony.
“Whether you’re a doctor, donor, CEO, board member or nurse—the dedication of this community to ensuring our fellow hard-working Montanans have access to the health care they need is literally saving lives,” Bullock said.
A large chunk of the money to build the expansion will come from tax-exempt bond financing.
On Wednesday, the hospital also announced Caring Forward, a $15 million charitable campaign. In its quiet fundraising effort building up to now, John Parkes, campaign co-chair, said Bozeman Health already has $11.2 million in contributions and pledges toward that goal.
That will help fund the expansion, pay for new equipment and increase the nonprofit’s Big Sky services.
Following a national trend of health services pooling under larger companies, health systems are expanding in southwest Montana.
Billings Clinic — Montana’s largest health organization — is sitting on 53 acres in Bozeman it bought more than two years ago. Officials with the system have said they’ll decide what will go on the land after pinpointing what’s missing in the area.
Bozeman Health has worked to remain the primary provider in Gallatin County and among many of its neighbors.
In 2013, Bozeman Health announced plans to build a hospital in Big Sky despite a local committee’s vote to support a competing proposal from Billings Clinic.
This year, the Bozeman system bought the sole private practice at Big Sky Resort and closed the clinic’s second location roughly half a mile from the Bozeman Health Big Sky Medical Center.
Between the start of 2014 and end of 2017, the health system went from 1,737 employees to 2,164.
On Wednesday, Hill said that growth will continue as more people arrive in southwest Montana.