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Polson Health Clinic nears completion

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POLSON — Polson residents have been watching construction on the Polson Health Clinic and its Outreach Clinic near the Mission Valley Aquatic Center for months. 

Questions abound about the new clinic: Is it going to be another hospital? Will there be a surgical clinic? Are they going to be hiring lots of new health care workers?

The current Polson Health Clinic, an offshoot of Kalispell Regional Medical Clinic, is located at 102 13th Avenue E. The building is just not large enough. One of the driving forces for the new clinic was that outreach physicians had no place to go, according to Practice Manager Robyn Lane. 

With 13,007 square feet, the expanded clinic will feature six “pods,” one for each provider, including an office and three exam rooms.

“When we get bigger, we don’t want it to feel bigger,” Lead Physician Dr. Dan Rausch said.

The pods will keep the smaller, more intimate “doctor’s office” feel for patients instead of “I’m a number, and no one knows my name.”

The clinic will have its same “friendly and professional office and medical support staff,” according to a press release.

“Dr. Dan is the perfect primary care physician,” Lane said, “because he’s so personable.” 

Providers and outreach doctors will share two rooms for procedures using local anesthetics, such as “lumps and bumps” removal.

Presently Polson Health providers are Dr. Tom Konen, chiropractor; Dr. Dan Rausch, lead physician and family practice; Alexandra Flerchinger, nurse practitioner/family practice; and KT “Karyn” Thornton, contract physician’s assistant. Plans are to add an additional physician and another nurse practitioner. 

“Nurses are the center of the clinic,” Rausch said, gesturing to the large nurse’s station in the middle of the clinic, to be rimmed with a double counter that allows a space for some laboratory work in the middle.

New much-needed spaces in the building will be intake areas, a larger lab, a conference room, x-ray, ultrasound and two offices for management as well as lots of bathrooms. 

Staff at the new clinic will have women’s and men’s locker rooms and a lunchroom that’s not in “the dungeon,” like it is in the other building.

Local professionals have been used as much as possible for construction work. For furniture, the clinic went through Business One, Inc. in Polson.

On the western end of the building is the 9,500 square foot outreach clinic.

“This is what everybody is worried about,” Hall said, opening the doors on the large space.

Rausch, Oliverson and Hall said Flathead Regional Medical Center CEO Velinda Stevens respects local hospitals. 

From a business point of view, Rausch noted that larger health care organizations are going to come swooping in.

If local clinics and hospitals can cooperate, “We can do it together and do a better job,” he said.   

Stevens’ question to local providers was what aren’t other hospitals and clinics doing so KRMC can meet those needs.

For instance, there is no gastroenterologist in the Mission Valley and a big demand for colonoscopies and other procedures. 

Gastroenterology will be one of the new outreaches as will psychiatry, pain management, diabetes care and prevention, nuclear medicine, and possibly a dermatologist.

Outreach providers who will continue to visit are cardiology and pulmonology, who will be increasing to weekly visits; neurology; orthopedics; endocrinology; urology; nephrology; mammograms and DEXA scans; and nuclear medicine. 

The two 400-square-foot procedure rooms will support outreach providers for procedures such as endoscopies and eye surgery, but will not be used for procedures involving general anesthesia. Featuring a reception area and waiting room, the Outreach Clinic will also have a full nursing station, five recovery rooms, and five prep rooms plus two consulting offices for visiting outreach providers and staff. 

“We are all living longer,” said Jim Oliverson, public relations for Kalispell Regional Medical Center.

With life expectancies moving into the late 80s and 90s, he said there unfortunately will be increases in disease, such as dementia and cancer.  With an older patient base, a local facility eliminates the need to find transportation to a medical appointment, and reduces travel time on roads that are sometimes icy.

Polson Health Clinic’s move-in dates are Jan. 9–11, 2015, and a community open house is planned for February 2015. The Outreach Clinic will open in the spring of 2015.

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