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Bozeman hospital expansion aims to keep patients closer to family

Bozeman Health Deaconess Hospital conceptual plans for expansion

Bozeman Health Deaconess Hospital is planning a $75 million expansion, which employees say will keep their most fragile and vulnerable patients closer to their loved ones.

The expansion includes adding the region’s first neonatal intensive care unit.

“No one expects to have a sick baby, but when you do you certainly don't expect to have to seek care for that baby outside of your community,” said Kim Kusak, a registered nurse and NICU nurse educator.

Right now when babies are born sick or premature, they’re stabilized then flown to Missoula, Great Falls or Billings, sometimes as far as Seattle, Denver or Salt Lake City.

"While we're sending some of the most vulnerable, fragile parts of our community out of town to get care, it really isn't matching up with what we want to do with the community and the mission and values here at Bozeman Health," said Kusak.

Newborns aren’t the only patients getting a new space at Bozeman Health, there will also be a brand new intensive care unit.

"The patient care tower is a much-needed expansion for us. We’ve been in our current location since 1986, and the ICU has not been touched since then, so the rooms are a little bit on the small side," said Lauren Brendel, Bozeman Health system director of marketing and communications.

A new building will be built to house an ICU, with larger rooms and administrative offices. A building that currently holds offices will be turned into a women’s and children’s center -- where the NICU will be.

Brendel says the project is paid for through tax-exempt bond and financing and donations.

“Expanded ICU rooms will allow for that love and support to be closer to the patient and just more room for families to be there with their loved ones,” said Brendel.

Conceptual plans for the expansion were submitted to the city’s planning office Friday morning. Once approved, construction will begin in the fall.

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