RED LODGE — Nearly 20 patients had scheduled appointments at the St. Vincent Healthcare Mountain View Clinic on Wednesday. They were ordinary appointments on what was an extraordinary day.
Keeping the doors open for business as usual was a calculated move. It was designed to make a seamless transition from the old clinic, which was smaller than 2,500 square feet, to the new, $4 million, 7,600-square-foot clinic on the northern edge of Red Lodge, at 10 Robinson Lane along Highway 212.
Against the backdrop of blue-and-white balloons, floral displays and snow-capped mountains, about 150 people braved 31-degree temperatures to witness what Dave Irion, president and CEO of the St. Vincent Healthcare Foundation, called the “frontier of medicine.”
The throng of people was there to celebrate the ribbon-cutting and open house celebration of the clinic and be among the first to tour the facility. By the end of the day, more than 200 people had filed through the doors.
“Today signals a new day in health care delivery in Red Lodge and our surrounding communities and commemorates a great investment that will benefit the region for generations to come,” said Mary Beth Noe, clinic manager.
While the clinic is new and showcases state-of-the-art equipment and technology, James Paquette, president and CEO of St. Vincent Healthcare, wasted no time in reminding celebrators that the hospital's presence in Red Lodge dates back many decades. In the early 1930s, Dr. Louis Allard created Camp Tekawitha for the hospital's pediatric polio patients near Camp Senia, 6-1/2 miles from Red Lodge in the Rock Creek Valley.
“We have many people to thank as this bold undertaking was only accomplished in partnership with philanthropists and medical professionals throughout the region,” Irion said. “This ministry made great strides in a remarkably short time. Our progress speaks to the compassion of our board, supporters and to the importance of this cause.”
The new clinic includes:
Eleven exam rooms, which is nearly triple what the old clinic housed.
Exam/procedure rooms for visiting medical specialties, including orthopedics, urology, general surgery, neurology and cardiology.
An on-site lab and digital X-ray system helping patients receive same-day screening, results and reports.
A technologically advanced conference room for use of telemedicine to access primary, consultative and specialty health care services regionally.
“It's all about the patient,” Noe said. “Everything that is here is about the patient. Everything.”
Jerry Smyle, regional vice president for Lantis Enterprises, which manages Cedar Wood Villa, a nursing home in Red Lodge, attended the festivities and was impressed.
“It shows St. Vincent's commitment to providing services to Red Lodge, which is very important for our nursing home.”
The clinic employs nine people, including two physicians, Dr. Bradley Fouts and Dr. Deirdre McNamer.
“It's just beautiful,” said Mary Louise Gainer of Red Lodge. She put on her Sunday best to participate in the celebration. “I think it's just great for the community. It shows progress. It gives us assurance that all of our health needs are met.”
The focal point of the day was certainly the new building and its architecture and high-tech equipment. But many would say that it was 80-year-old Steve Gose, a patient, community member and member of the St. Vincent Healthcare Foundation board.
Gose moved to Red Lodge 15 years ago from San Antonio. He questioned whether he would receive the quality of health care to which he had grown accustomed in Texas.
“Having been a patient here ... they have the most loving, wonderful care you can imagine,” Gose said. “Every time you walk in here, everybody loves ya. It's so personal. We love that kind of loving, caring place.”
Contact Cindy Uken at email@example.com or 657-1287.