Montana Children’s worth celebrating

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Montana Children’s Medical Center officially opened on Monday as the staff welcomed its first patients with a parade of cheers and smiles. The jovial scene marked a milestone for the $60 million facility that has been in the making for more than three years.

This impressive medical center, rising three stories and totaling 190,000 square feet on the Kalispell Regional Medical Center campus, is touted as the first pediatric facility of its kind in Montana. The first phase of the hospital’s new center includes a 12-bed pediatric unit, a six-bed pediatric intensive care unit and a 12-bed neonatal intensive care unit. The second and third floors are expected to open in later phases down the road.

Matching the prominence of the towering glass building and its high-tech capabilities is a robust staff of physicians and specialists recruited to provide top-shelf patient care. According to the hospital, more than 100 pediatric/family medicine primary care providers and more than 40 pediatric subspecialties are on Montana Children’s staff. Their areas of expertise range from neonatology and cardiology, to critical care and psychiatry, among other subspecialties.

There’s no denying the onslaught of dissension that has swirled around Kalispell Regional Healthcare over the last few years. And while those issues remain pertinent, the achievement of bringing Montana Children’s to fruition shouldn’t be drowned in that turmoil.

The new center is expected to serve as a regional hub for pediatric care, serving all of Montana and even patients in neighboring states. A facility of this stature will most certainly provide a major boon for local economic development — touching all sectors of the workforce.

Yet, it’s the positive impact Montana Children’s will have on local families that matters most. Accessing pediatric care from the best providers once required expensive, overnight trips to Seattle, Salt Lake City or Denver — a taxing endeavor for even the most well-off families. Mounting medical bills, plus time off work and travel expenses can crush a household financially and emotionally.

Now, that level of care be found at your local hospital, just a quick drive away from anywhere in Northwest Montana, and that’s something we should all celebrate.

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