A medical office building near Kalispell Regional Medical Center has work underway to nearly double its size.
The expansion of The Rock on Heritage Way will add 29,000 square feet over three floors on the east side of the building.
The new wing will share the existing facility’s elevator, stairs and hallway. It will have two floors above ground and a basement.
Dr. John Andenoro, president of The Rock and urologist at Urology Associates, said the expansion would benefit patients and doctors.
“Huge, it’s huge,” he said. “The expansion will offer substantial improvement for patient experience.”
Urology Associates, one of several tenants in The Rock, will expand from 5,000 to 9,000 square feet. Other tenants, such as Rocky Mountain Heart and Lung, Northwest Oncology & Hematology and Northwest Orthopedics & Sports Medicine, also will expand.
The oncology office will expand from 5,000 to nearly 14,000 square feet. That office sees at least 20 people daily receiving chemotherapy. An expanded infusion center will make the process more comfortable for patients.
A Swank Construction and CTA Architects and Engineers project, the $5.4 million expansion job began in April. Andenoro estimates patients will be able to use the new wing on March 1, 2015.
The expansion comes as more patients and more doctors have been crammed into the same space that was finished in 2006.
“Since we moved in, oncology has grown by more than twofold,” Andenoro said. “We knew we could expand to the tarmac. This was expected.”
Urology Associates has grown as well. Andenoro said with a large senior population, some of the top cancers for men involve the urinary tract: prostate, bladder and kidney. The space the practice currently occupies just won’t be enough.
“There is no other real estate on this campus for sale,” Andenoro said. “The prime drive for expansion is our clinic’s ability to provide for our patients. We are looking to reduce patient time in clinic by 50 percent. Right now patients average about an hour and a half. We are driving for 45 minutes.”
The new facility also will allow Urology Associates to try a new method of running a clinic: It looks to use a scribe-scheduler model once the expansion is complete.
This model will involve a certified medical assistant in the exam room with the doctor and patient so electronic medical records can be updated simultaneously with the visit.
These assistants could come from Flathead Valley Community College, Andenoro said. He would like to forge a partnership with the college.
Besides Andenoro’s practice and an expanded oncology office, the basement floor of the new expansion will be used for Kalispell Regional Healthcare’s Information Technology department.
With a growing and aging population in the Flathead Valley, it is possible The Rock might expand again in the next decade. For now, Andenoro and the doctors in The Rock welcome the expansion.
Reporter Ryan Murray may be reached at 758-4436 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.