New clinic opening Monday

by nathan osterWith the snip of a scissors and a round of applause, the providers, administrators and board members of the South Big Horn County Hospital District ushered in a new era in health care Friday afternoon with the ceremonial opening of the new Midway Clinic.The ribbon-cutting ceremony was followed by an open house, where community members and Bonnie Bluejacket Memorial Nursing Home residents walked the halls, mingled with friends and neighbors and visited with staff members."This is how we grow ... this is how we want to better care services in the Greybull-Basin area," said Vince DiFranco, interim chief executive officer of the hospital district, in his opening remarks.The approximately 5,000 square foot clinic officially opens for business on Monday, July 30.Built in the space between the existing clinic to the east and the hospital wing to the west, the clinic features nine examination rooms, a consultation room that can be used by visiting specialists or for the providers' private consultations with family members and a well-lit, state-of-the-art procedure room where providers can perform minor surgeries.The exam, consultation and procedure rooms line north-south corridors of the new clinic.While there is an exterior door on the north side of the clinic, that is meant for staff members only. The primary public access to the clinic will be from the hallway off the west entrance to the health care facility, which is the one currently being used for the ER and hospital.The back part of the clinic features six offices — one for each of the five physicians, a sixth for the clinic manager — plus areas for support staff and a "sleep room" for the physician who is on call in the ER.The hospital district currently has just three providers: Dr. Andrew Roberts, physician's assistant Sarah Watt and family nurse practitioner Mary Freund. A fourth, Dr. Deb Bracket, is expected to return from her sabbatical in November. DiFranco said the hospital district has extended an offer to another doctor to join the staff and is also advertising for an office manager.From a staffing standpoint, DiFranco said the hospital district will not need to hire additional employees to run the clinic, adding, "We're pretty well staffed for now, but we'll see how patient volume grows and evaluate as we go."The completion of the clinic represents a significant step toward the district's overall master plan. Already checked off are new radiology and lab facilities, the hospital, ER and now the clinic.All that remains is the demolition of the current clinic, the construction of a new entryway facing U.S. Highway 16-20 and, at the very end, the building of a new nursing home.Don't expect to see any of that happen in the short term."We've invested a lot in the facility the last few years and we probably need to take a break and pay down some of the debt before we move forward with any additional construction," said DiFranco. "Right now we're in the planning phases to determine what those final phases will look like; there will probably not be any new construction or demolition for at least a year."