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Mountain Outlaw magazine: A new icon in mountain health care

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Just as iconic Lone Peak adorns Big Sky’s horizon, a new addition to the skyline this winter marks a significant evolution in healthcare within this mountain community.

Bozeman Health commenced operations of the Big Sky Medical Center in December 2015. The first phase of the 51,625-square-foot facility includes a six-room emergency department; primary care clinic; pharmacy; medevac helicopter-landing pad; laboratory services; a four-bed inpatient unit, and an imaging center complete with a permanent state-of-the-art magnetic resonance imaging scanner.

“For a community that thrives on the tourist industry, this is a huge advantage and really transforms the way we can provide emergency medical services locally,” said William Farhat, chief of Big Sky Fire Department. “Instead of transporting patients 50 miles to Bozeman, we will be able to address most needs right here in Big Sky.”

Nearby Yellowstone National Park draws more than four million annual visitors, and last season Big Sky Resort saw 370,000 skier visits. Combined with nearly 3,000 year-round residents, and over 2,300 workers commuting to Big Sky each day, the need for quality, full service care is apparent.

The addition of Big Sky Medical Center will have significant impact on the local economy. In 2015 alone, donors provided the nonprofit Bozeman Health Foundation nearly$3 million in cash and in-kind support to assist in completing Phase 1, installing a 1.5 Tesla MRI, and creating the new Fund for Excellence and Innovation in Big Sky Patient Care.

“We have a responsibility and a commitment to the communities we serve to meet the healthcare needs both now and as we move into the future,” said Bozeman Health Chief Strategy and Business Development Officer Cheryl Ridgely. “This expansion builds on the promise that Bozeman Health began more than a century ago.”

The Big Sky Medical Center vision began in 2003 as part of a long-range strategic planning process. Bozeman Health has served southwest Montana for more than 100 years, and has for decades invested in facilities and services to meet community needs.

In addition to the Big Sky Medical Center facility, Bozeman Health will be co-launching new electronic health records within its network to provide connectivity and enhanced collaboration among medical providers. The objective, Ridgely says, is to better facilitate patient experience and personal engagement in improving health.

“Quality, safety, and sustainability are key elements in everything we do,” Ridgely said. “Providing high-quality essential community services is a long-term endeavor and a testament to that ongoing commitment.”

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