Even Mother Nature hasn’t been able to substantially slow down the clinic expansion project at Mountrail County Medical Center.
Jim Clark, Director of Plant Operations for the medical campus, says the various contractors are staying on track for an early February move in date of the T.H. Reiarson Rural Health Clinic.
“We are now installing many of the built-in furnishings and electrical work will soon be completed”, said Clark, “and then we start finishing up the long list of little things that need to be taken care of before we can open.”
Once the new section of the clinic gets opened up, work will begin on the remodeling of the current clinic to make it more efficient. “As soon as we can get moved into the new side we will start demo and remodel on the old side…and that part of the project will take another 60 days, said Clark. We are planning to have the Ribbon Cutting and Open House for the entire new clinic project on Sunday, March 29th so the community can come and tour the new facility.”
Interim Administrator Mike Hall says that once the project is completed it will help to get people in to see the medical providers more quickly. “The challenge we face every day is that we don’t have enough exam space to see all the patients as quickly as they want to be seen,” said Hall.
Hall noted that the existing clinic, and even the new clinic space by itself, will only allow for two providers to work at the same time. This situation won’t improve until both the new clinic and the remodeled area are available. “Once we have more than twice the number of exam rooms we can increase the number of providers available at any one time”, noted Hall, “and that means more people being seen more quickly.”
Chief of Staff Dr. Mark Longmuir indicates that the current operation is limited by lack of space in the current clinic. “The challenges created by such a small space include privacy and waiting times”, said Longmuir, “and when we are operating at full capacity it becomes quite a challenge to simply move through the halls.”
Janel Borud is responsible for many of the functions of the clinic. She says that people many times don’t understand why it takes a number of days before they can see a provider in the clinic. “Our limitations dictate that we schedule two providers, but we must also cover the Emergency Department too” says Borud.
The other challenge in getting people in for an appointment is that some patients only want to see a particular provider. When that happens, it may be some time before that provider is scheduled to work in the Clinic and, as often happens, they are already scheduled to capacity so the patient has to wait even longer.
“We’re fortunate”, says Borud, “that we have a great team of well-qualified and well-trained providers in the clinic so a person can rest assured that they are being seen by a very capable provider when they come in, regardless of whom they are seeing.”
Borud also pointed out that continuing education requirements, vacations, illness and specialized training often takes a provider out of the schedule. The Clinic then uses the services of physicians from other communities to provide coverage but, unfortunately, they can’t always count on having access to those resources. “It would be great if those traveling providers were always available”, she says, “but they are few in number and high in demand so we sometimes just have to make do. We are in the process of recruiting another mid-level provider that would be able to start immediately and are still looking for another full time Physician.”
Dr. Longmuir noted that another group of traveling providers is going to be of great value to the T.H. Reiarson Rural Health Clinic in the near future. “A considerable number of medical specialists from Minot and Bismarck have continually asked when we were going to have space available for them to come to Stanley on a regularly schedule basis”, Longmuir reflected, “and having several specialists coming to MCMC will make it very convenient for patients that need to see a specialist but can’t, or don’t want to go to a distant location to see them”.
The T.H. Reiarson Rural Health Clinic is part of the three-phased campaign being conducted by the Mountrail County Health Foundation. The first of the phases was the expansion of the Emergency Department and included an enclosed ambulance bay, full time CT Scanner, Decontamination Room and a Trauma Room.
The third phase will be the common-space expansion of the Bethel Home. It creates a new Chapel, replacement of the kitchen, relocation of Central Supply and a new Transportation Center that will allow residents to be transported by bus, van or private auto without getting out into the weather.
–Courtesy of Mountrail County Promoter