FORT BENTON — The Fort Benton community has every reason to celebrate this week, and that is exactly what they did as residents joined members of the Missouri River Medical Center and the Benton Medical Clinic outside their new building with a ribbon cutting and open house.
The 4,500 square-foot facility is just about complete with only some needed electrical work, which has been delayed due to supply chain and inflation. Once those arrive however, they will be officially open.
Chairman of the hospital board, Mike O'Hara stated, "our old clinic wasn't serving our purposes anymore with telemedicine and all the advancements in medical care, it just wasn't serving our needs today. So 10 years ago, our board decided the number one priority was to build a new rural healthcare clinic for our community, but after we just started the process, we had some infrastructure problems in our hospital and we ended up spending $2 million to upgrade the heating and chilling, so that delayed the continuation of this project. It took a long time, but we had the ribbon cutting, it's completed, and we couldn't be any happier and the community is very receptive to this new clinic. The bottom line is it's going to provide quality healthcare to this rural community for generations to come."
Missouri River Medical Center CEO, Louie King mentioned that this has been a dream for a lot of people as he thanked up to 70 employees who worked hard, especially throughout the pandemic.
Dr. Jace Bird serves as the medical director for both the clinic and the hospital said the idea of a new clinic came about 12 years ago, but with no progress in sight after a couple of years, he doubted it would become a reality. But as of now, he has high hopes and is aiming for more collaborations.
Bird stated, "one of the things that we're really looking forward to is hopefully partnering with more of our specialty positions from Great Falls and other communities where they have a space that they will come in and provide outreach to our community and bring things that we currently have."
The old clinic was originally used by nuns who worked at St. Clares' Hospital. While the staff has made best of it, they are moving on to having a new facility designed for them and their patients.
The current clinic consists of a reception desk along with a nurses' station located at the front desk. The offices are filled with natural light with the rest of the building featuring provider rooms, exam rooms, and procedural rooms.
Ameresco served as the engineers and general contactors for the project and Dick Anderson out of Great Falls served as the builder.
Britta MacIntosh, who serves as Senior Vice President for West Region Operations for Ameresco stated, "it's pretty exciting. I know it's exciting for the neighborhood, it's exciting for the town and for everyone that works at the medical center on a daily basis, and at Ameresco, we're pleased to make this a reality."
Marcus Eidal, Project Manager for Ameresco said, "It means a lot to this little community to have a facility like this that's built, new, and I can feel the appreciation from the attendance at the ceremony."