The year was 1949, and it was an exciting time for healthcare in our community. A hospital was coming to Sandpoint. What would become the first home for Bonner General Hospital was transported 25 miles along the shores of Lake Pend Oreille via a barge. The original building, a small single story infirmary from Farragut Naval Training Station, has transformed into what we know today as Bonner General Health. While the name and appearance have changed, the commitment to quality health care in North Idaho has been a constant.
In an effort to keep pace with the change and growth taking place in the community, Bonner General Hospital recently took a new look at their brand, image and overall community presence as it relates to the services it provides. In doing so, they surveyed their staff, physicians, board members and members of the community. In an effort to keep pace with the change and growth taking place in the community, Bonner General Hospital recently took a new look at their brand, image and overall community presence as it relates to the services it provides. In doing so, they surveyed their staff, physicians, board members and members of the community.
A health needs assessment was performed and considered along with that of two other assessments that had been completed - one by the Idaho Public Health Districts 1 and 2 (Panhandle and North Central) and the other from Bonner County EMS. “Both of their assessments were completed by conducting meetings, issuing surveys, examining health data and underlying community issues and consulting with health professionals in the communities,” said Terri Fortner, Community Development and Foundation Executive Director for Bonner General Health.
Bonner General utilized its Community Advisory Council to review and prioritize the data collected. The result was a list of four primary health needs: obesity, mental health/suicide prevention, teen births and child abuse and neglect. So just what did Bonner General decide to do with this new information? They quickly went into action. “As a result of the identification of the primary health needs and a desire to leverage our community sponsorships and benefit dollars, we began meeting with local program leaders to identify how we can best plug into current programs and not reinvent the wheel,” said Fortner.
“As a result of our discussions, we are participating with Panhandle Alliance for Education, Community Coalition for Substance Abuse Prevention, Bonner Partners in Care, the Suicide Prevention Hotline, the Chamber’s Annual Health and Safety Fair as well as numerous other health and wellness activities in the communities we serve.” They have also hired a psychiatrist to assist them in meeting the needs of those in need of mental health assessment and treatment.
According to Fortner, the data they gathered provided valuable information, specifically that many were not necessarily aware of the many services provided by Bonner General. They also became convinced that it was time to rebrand themselves so that people in the community could gain a better understanding of what specifically was Bonner General’s role. Thus the change from Bonner General Hospital to Bonner General Health.
While Bonner General Health is a full-service, acute care, 25-bed critical access hospital, it offers so much more. “Bonner General provides many medical services including a 24-hour emergency department, rehabilitation services, cancer treatment through the Kootenai Cancer Center located on the campus, wound care, psychiatry, OB/GYN, Sandpoint Women’s Health, diagnostic imaging, laboratory services, diabetes education and counseling and home health and hospice care,” shared Fortner.
When it comes to statistics, one may be quite surprised at just how busy things are at Bonner General Health. In 2014 the hospital delivered 343 babies; provided more than 30,000 rehabilitation treatments; performed nearly 24,000 diagnostic imaging tests; and more than 4,000 hospice visits, just to name a few.
Bonner General Health’s contribution to the community extends far beyond providing services; it is also a great contributor to the economic health in the Sandpoint community. In 2014, they paid $24,700,00 in wages and benefits and received $200,000 in contributions. It also provided charity care - including bad debt - of $3.1 million.
Looking ahead, the construction of the new 40,000 square-foot building will do much to allow Bonner General Health to continue to meet the needs of North Idaho residents. The new structure will house Women’s Imaging, Sandpoint Women’s Health, Performance Therapy Service and the business, human resources and community development offices.
The expansion also allows BGH to increase and improve its services in certain areas. “We are expanding our diagnostic imaging services with Tomosynthetic Mammography-a new technology that increases the accuracy of the image and results in fewer callbacks for reimaging. An upgrade in our densitometry (bone density) technology is also scheduled,” said Fortner.
For a complete list of all that Bonner General Health has to offer, including its many outreach clinics, visit their website at bonnergeneral.org. The expansion also allows BGH to increase and improve its services in certain areas. “We are expanding our diagnostic imaging services with Tomosynthetic Mammography-a new technology that increases the accuracy of the image and results in fewer callbacks for reimaging. An upgrade in our densitometry (bone density) technology is also scheduled,” said Fortner.
Mark your calendars! Bonner General Health is partnering with the Sandpoint Chamber of Commerce to host the Health and Safety Fair at the Columbia Bank Building on Saturday, May 2. For more information, log onto www.sandpointchamber.org/programsservices/health-safety/.