Great Falls Clinic announces plans for replacement hospital
Tribune Staff Writer
The Great Falls Clinic announced plans Tuesday to build a facility adjacent to its existing Specialty Center that will house a 19-bed hospital, operating rooms, procedure room and emergency room. The 60,000-square-foot building will be attached to the Specialty Center, where many of the clinic’s providers practice, and which up until last week housed the pediatrics department, which moved Monday to the Main Campus due to space constraints.
Construction is scheduled to begin this summer, with completion slated for fall of 2015.
“We are just very excited,” said Vicki Newmiller, CEO of Great Falls Clinic. “We believe this is in the best interest of the community, and we’re honored patients have chosen our clinic for their care.”
The current facility used as a hospital and surgery center, located at 1411 9th St. S., is leased by GFC from Benefis Health System. That lease runs out in 2016.
Newmiller said the design of the new facility will address some efficiency and space issues with the current building.
However, the facility does not add capacity. A moratorium on expansion of physician-owned hospitals went into effect in 2010 with the passage of the Affordable Care Act, which is reflected in the facility’s planned design, Newmiller said.
The facility will be owned equally by GFC and Symbion, a company that partners with hospitals and health systems to develop and operate short-stay surgical facilities. GFC and Symbion entered into the partnership in 2011.
“While the current hospital has served the community well, this move will enhance our ability to deliver the quality care patients have come to expect,” said John Crysel, president of Symbion’s National Group.
Dr. Nancy Maynard, chairwoman of GFC’s executive committee, said the new building will add efficiency to behind-the-scenes aspects of care patients may not even be aware of.
“There will be new efficiencies in terms of internal workings, improving some technology pieces as well, like patient monitoring, in flow, surgery and inpatient rooms,” Maynard explained.
The addition of the emergency room will add to patient choice too. Newmiller said GFC plans to employ its own physicians in the ER, which will translate to new jobs.
Newmiller and Maynard say they are confident the new facility will give patients an added choice in their care and increase the quality of care patients receive.
Tuesday’s announcement comes in the wake of a move by the pediatrics department from the Specialty Center to the GFC Main Campus, located at 1400 29th St. S. The dermatology department is scheduled to open at that location in August as well.
The recent addition of new providers has left the Specialty Center full, requiring the move of several pediatricians, including Maynard, to the Main Campus. After a tumultuous period of contraction and lay-offs, the clinic has begun to expand again, Newmiller said.
More new providers, including a pain specialist, ear, nose and throat specialist, and another pediatrician, are expected to join GFC later this year.
“We have new folks joining us, and we need more space in the specialty building,” Maynard said. “It’s a good time to be moving and getting into this space.”
Overall, Maynard said she and GFC officials expect a cycle of growth.
“We are anticipating growth and we’re being very systematic at what the needs of the community are and being efficient and providing the best quality of care,” Maynard said.
Newmiller calls the need to expand GFC’s pediatrics practice a “good problem.” The growth of GFC and the added competition it will bring to the medical industry in Great Falls is good, too, she said.
“(Competition) raises the bar for all of us, and that isn’t something we lose sight of,” she said.
Newmiller did not release the estimated cost of the new facility because final decisions regarding equipment and real estate have not yet been made. The developer of the project is Medvest, based in Birmingham, Ala., but Newmiller said officials hope to hire many local contractors to do much of the construction work.