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Teamwork, adaptation, and generosity at Bonner General Health

by KRISTIN CARLSON Contributing Writer
| March 31, 2021 1:00 AM

To say this past year was a challenge for the entire world is an understatement. Here at Bonner General Health, it was no different. But, what came out of the challenge, uncertainty, and struggles was the camaraderie amongst our team, exceptional community support, and an even stronger healthcare system for the greater Sandpoint area.

New clinics:

In February 2020, Bonner General Health opened Bonner General Ophthalmology Clinic, led by board-certified ophthalmologist Dr. Mark Torres. Dr. Torres moved to North Idaho after 30 years of active duty military service in the U.S. Army. He was the chief of ophthalmology for the Madigan Army Medical Center, U.S. Army, in Tacoma, Washington, before arriving in Sandpoint. The clinic's opening was halted by the pandemic shut down but has thrived since officially reopening in May. Dr. Torres and his team see patients in the office three days per week, with one additional day for surgeries. He specializes in corneal and refractive surgery, diagnosis and treatment of conditions, injuries, and diseases related to the eye. Bonner General Ophthalmology is the only ophthalmology clinic in Sandpoint and the surrounding area. The clinic, located in the Bonner General Health Services building, is fully operational and accepting new patients.

Sharing the same suite inside the Health Services Building is our new Family Practice, which opened in August. With the closing of Nurse Practitioner Michelle Anderson's practice, a need arose for a place for her patients to go. Michelle was very well respected and adored by her patients. She was also a longtime BGH supporter and was pleased to leave her patients in the hands of our practice. The clinic is prosperous, with Nurse Practitioner Lana Young seeing patients three days a week. We have another nurse practitioner joining the practice in May, allowing for additional days of operation and care for more patients. Bonner General Family Practice sees patients of all ages for primary and preventative care needs.

Our Ear, Nose, and Throat Clinic is fully operational and seeing both adult and pediatric patients. Dr. Susan Anderson is our board-certified otolaryngologist (ENT physician) with expertise in diagnosing and treating a wide range of conditions related to the ear, nose, throat, and head and neck structures. You can find our ENT Clinic in the Pinegrove Medical Building,606 N. Third Ave., Sandpoint.

"We have embraced growth and giving the best of care to our patients. We are so fortunate to serve our community with top-notch Doctors and staff close to home. Our clinics have continued to move forward during difficult times, following all CDC guidelines to protect our patients and staff,” Julie Hoffman, director of practice management at Bonner General Health

Upgrades:

Bonner General Health was the recipient of several grants this past year, which allowed for updates to our facility and elevated patient care.

A project that was in desperate need, but was placed on hold due to the pandemic, was our Emergency Department's renovation. With a gracious grant award from the Sunderland Foundation, we proceeded with the project completed in February of this year. Some of the improvements included: flooring, cabinet, countertop replacement, paint, roof restoration, sliding doors where curtains were previously, medical gas outlet additions, and widening of the EMS entrance.

Bonner General Health Laboratory Services has been at the forefront of COVID-19 testing for our community. A grant from the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare sub-grant Coronavirus Relief Fund allowed for purchasing a weather-proof semi-permanent trailer for drive-thru COVID-19 testing. We were also able to buy additional testing equipment, allowing the lab to run more COVID tests in-house with same-day results for our community. Our lab is staffed with experienced certified Medical Laboratory Scientists and Phlebotomists, providing 24-hour coverage, using state-of-the-art analyzers and quick turnaround times. Lab Director Cheri Proctor and her team have worked tirelessly to provide services related to the pandemic. They really stepped from the very beginning to provide COVID-19 testing to our community and have continued to do so, all while providing routine services to our healthcare system.

Additional grants awarded to Bonner General Health include one from Pacific Source to offset some of our Emergency Department's expenses related to the pandemic, including overtime wages and equipment. A grant was received from the Idaho Community Foundation, Human Rights Task Force for Behavioral Health Treatment in the Emergency Department.

β€œThe planning and implementation of a COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic continue to be a top priority for our team. It took great teamwork from our hospital staff to coordinate this effort, putting in many extra hours to ensure the need is met in our community. BGH employees and community volunteers have given their time and efforts to ensure that those in our community who want to get vaccinated have that opportunity. It is incredible to see the BGH staff and community come together to help reduce the spread of COVID in the communities we serve. These people genuinely care about the overall health of our friends and families,” Sheryl Rickard, CEO for Bonner General Health

Fundraising:

The 13th annual Heart Ball fundraiser presented by the Bonner General Health Foundation Board went virtual for the first time in February of this year. This ever-popular event aimed to raise additional funds for the Emergency Department, allowing for updated equipment to match our newly renovated space. The one-hour event featured testimonials from community and foundation members and staff sharing their patient experiences in our ED and longtime BGH supporter Jack Parker sharing the importance of supporting your hometown hospital. The dessert auction ran for the week prior, allowing community members to bid on desserts created by local bakers, and was delivered in time to enjoy before the event. The evening also included auction items and paddle raise to round out the evening. Our expectations of the evening were modest, and the results exceeded our expectations.

"The Foundation plays an integral part in generating financial support to provide services and support initiatives that help to improve access to medical care. When you receive care from our hometown hospital, you experience firsthand Bonner General employee's dedication, teamwork, and commitment to providing quality care in our community", says Erin Binnall, Manager of Community Development & Foundation.

Accolades:

BGH was the first hospital in North Idaho and the second Critical Access Hospital in Idaho to receive all three Time Sensitive Emergency Designations: Level IV Trauma Center, Level III Stroke Center, Level II STEMI Center. The Time-Sensitive Emergency system is modeled on evidence-based care that addresses public education and prevention, 911 access, response coordination, pre-hospital response, transport, hospital emergency/acute care, rehabilitation, and quality improvement. Our goal is to get the patient to the right place at the right time for the proper care.

Bonner General Health is a 501 (c) 3 – non-profit organization, designated as a Critical Access Hospital, with 25 inpatient beds and 13 clinics in Bonner and Boundary Counties. We are comprised of 440 total employees, including 73 physicians and 23 additional medical providers. In 2020 we had 76,552 outpatient visits, 10,084 emergency department visits, performed 2,080 surgeries, and delivered 229 babies.

Our mission at Bonner General Health is: Serving our community by providing excellent healthcare close to home. The values we encompass and strive for daily are Compassion, Excellence, Integrity, Respect. We are proud to serve our community.

For more information, visit www.bonnergeneralhealth.org.

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(Photo courtesy BONNER GENERAL HEALTH)

A look at the new Bonner General Health Emergency Department.

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(Photo courtesy BONNER GENERAL HEALTH)

One of the dessert offered for auction during the Bonner General Health Foundation's annual Heart Ball.

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(Photo courtesy BONNER GENERAL HEALTH)

Anderson

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(Photo courtesy BONNER GENERAL HEALTH)

Young

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(Photo courtesy BONNER GENERAL HEALTH)

Torres