Shriners to open pediatric clinic in Kalispell

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Shriners Hospital for Children in Spokane is launching a pediatric orthopedic outreach clinic in collaboration with Montana Children’s at Kalispell Regional Healthcare in an effort to mitigate patient travel between Kalispell and Spokane.

Kristin Monasmith, director of marketing and communications and business development with Shriners, said Montana patients frequent the facility and the outreach clinic so the clinic partnership, which has been about a year in the making, has been a natural undertaking.

“Being out of Spokane, our region cares for hundreds of kids from Montana every year. In years past that made the most sense, for them to come to us,” Monasmtih said.” But one of our big initiatives here at Shriners is to increase access to care for the kids and we saw this as an opportunity for that.”

Kalispell Regional officials say while the hospital has a team of orthopedic doctors and surgeons, the clinic outreach team will offer very specific pediatric services that are not yet part of Kalispell Regional’s offerings.

“There are just some very discreet pediatric conditions that call for different services. So when it comes to those subspecialty diagnoses, the kids really benefit from having those specialists available,” said Courtney Paterson, co-medical director for Montana Children’s.

According to Monasmith, a team of specialists from Shriners’ Spokane facility will travel to Kalispell Regional once every other month for one day of clinic work. She said the team’s first visit was well-received and the upcoming openings are rapidly filling up with clients.

Officials with both Kalispell Regional and Shriner’s say once the clinic gets up and running they hope to increase visitation frequency in the future as the need arises.

“We imagine we will adjust accordingly as the clinic settles in,” Monasmith said.

The two children’s hospitals have been in close collaboration since last summer regarding the opening of the clinic. According to Teresa Fisher, the new administrator for Montana Children’s, when the hospital began considering outreach clinics, Shriners was an easy choice, saying the hospital has an “outstanding track record.”

“We have been around for about 100 years. We want to get to where the kids are, and make sure that wherever they are, they are getting the care. It doesn’t matter where it is, if it’s an orthopedic need, that’s our specialty,” Monasmith said.

The outreach clinic highlights Kalispell Regional’s efforts to combat challenges in rural health care. According to Monasmith, Shriners currently has two other similar outreach clinics, in Alaska and in central Washington, and based on the successes from those clinics, officials have no doubt the Kalispell collaboration will be successful.

“I think this is one example [of adjusting to rural health care], as a rural location it can be a challenge to find and recruit these specialists here so being able to partner with Shriners has been great for our patients,” Fisher said.

A ribbon-cutting celebration for the outreach clinic is scheduled at 11:30 a.m. July 12 at the Northwest Orthopedics and Sports Medicine building at 350 Heritage Way.

The event comes less than two weeks after the grand opening of Montana Children’s. The children’s center, which was a multiple-year venture completed at a cost of about $60 million, has placed Kalispell Regional on the map as the most comprehensive children’s health-care provider in the state.

Reporter Kianna Gardner may be reached at 758-4459 or kgardner@dailyinterlake.com.

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