10:45 AM

Communities build great health care

The original Emergency Room (ER) at Kalispell Regional Medical Center (KRMC) opened in 1976 when the new hospital was built on the Buffalo Hill property. An expansion in 1991 increased its capacity to accommodate 13,000 patient visits per year. However, over the course of the next 20 years, KRMC would see patient visits climbing to more than 23,000 per year.

In August of 2011, the Kalispell Regional Healthcare Foundation kicked off a capital campaign to raise funds for another expansion of the ER to support continued increases in patient volumes, house new equipment and technology and provide high quality emergency care in a comfortable environment. The Flathead County community stepped forward and generously contributed $14 million to fund the project, 40% of which was donated by KRH employees, physicians and volunteers.

Construction on the new ER spaces began in 2014.This fall, the last phase of the Kalispell Regional Medical Center (KRMC) Emergency Department will be completed — the final chapter in a seven-year journey to meet the growing health needs our community.

Increasing from roughly a dozen beds to 31 beds, the renovation offers more room for emergency care teams to tend to patients, provide much needed storage space for medical equipment and supplies, and offer designated rooms for specialized care appropriate to certain types of injuries or conditions.

Overall, the biggest change a patient may feel is more space which provides more privacy for all patients and their families. Formerly, it was common for two patients with two separate needs to share one room when the ED was busy. Now, patients receive care with more privacy, in a room that is better equipped to handle unique needs. New additions include the following:

  • Six resuscitation/trauma rooms equipped with more space, equipment and tools to assist critical care patients.
  • Two family consult rooms that are private spaces for critical conversations and quiet space, including The Sunset Room; a specially-designed room for those that have lost a loved one where family members and friends can gather with one another in privacy.
  • Four behavioral health rooms (with potential to expand to six if the need arises) will help to accommodate drug use, detox conditions and other mental health situations that require unique environments to avoid injury to others or self- harm.
  • Decontamination rooms (a series of rooms) for those patients with a contagious infectious disease or could have been exposed to hazardous materials.
  • A SANE (sexual assault nurse examiner) room dedicated to caring for victims of sexual assault to provide safety and comfort apart from other areas and stressors of an emergency room.
  • Imaging room including a CT scanner and MRI technology for advanced diagnostics readily available for critical care patients.

“We want to express our gratitude to all the individuals, businesses, foundations, as well as, those closest to the hospital, doctors, nurses, administration, employees and board members of both the hospital and the foundation. It’s incredibly rewarding to see the good work we can accomplish when we all pitch in to get something done,” says Tagen Vine, president of Kalispell Regional Healthcare Foundation. “It’s great to know that we are supporting our local neighbors and friends when they are in critical need.”