RED LODGE — Beartooth Hospital and Health Center, a 60-year-old facility that no longer meets the demands of 21st century health care needs, is headed for the auction block.
The hospital's governing board disposition committee has courted “serious, interested” parties for the past 18 months, but there have been no takers.
The auction will be handled by Rick Young & Sons Auctioneers of Absarokee and is expected to happen in December or January, said Maggie Karas, community relations coordinator for the hospital.
Contents of the hospital at 600 21st St. W. will be auctioned separately on the same day.
Plans for Red Lodge Clinic are pending and will be announced later.
The upcoming auction comes as Beartooth Hospital and Health Center and Billings Clinic Red Lodge plan to open an $18.2 million state-of-the-art medical facility under a new name, Beartooth Billings Clinic, on Nov. 18. Both hospital and clinic services will be integrated under one roof.
The auction will be bittersweet for the community of 2,400 residents who have relied on the hospital for six decades. The governing board considered maintaining the status quo, remodeling it or building new. Sensibility won out over sentimentality, said Kelley Evans, CEO of the hospital.
More room was needed for increased outpatient traffic and modern medical equipment and technology. Limitations of the old site prevented the hospital from meeting certain Americans with Disabilities Act requirements, and infrastructure problems were extensive. Asbestos, a once-common building material, is evident throughout. The 1950s plumbing presented constant problems, and the World War II-era boilers are near the end of their reliable lives.
Ownership of Beartooth Billings Clinic will remain with Memorial Hospital Association, the community-owned organization that has owned the Beartooth Hospital and Health Center since 1950.
The official name change will take place Nov. 18.