KALISPELL — Governor Steve Bullock visited Kalispell Thursday morning to tour the Alternate Care Facility being built at Kalispell Regional Medical Center.
The facility is under construction on the vacant third floor of Montana Children’s Hospital.
It's one of two care facility’s being built in Montana that will serve the region in the event of a COVID-19 pandemic escalation.
The project started on May 5 and is ahead of schedule with construction expected to be complete on May 26.
The facility’s main purpose is establishing a care setting for non-COVID-19 patients if additional hospital capacity is needed during the pandemic response.
Gov. Bullock toured the facility asking questions to Kalispell Regional Healthcare and Army Corps of Engineer officials.
He said Kalispell is the perfect fit for the care facility due to the states longstanding relationship with the hospital.
“Recognize that if we really did have significant medical surge needs it would be great to have it here,” said Bullock.
If needed, the care facility can support up to 100 beds, treating patients in modular pods and nursing stations.
Army Corps of Engineers Brigadier General Peter Helmlinger says the care facility can be ready for use as early as Tuesday.
"There are no immediate plans to use it which is good news, but if it is needed it can be turned on very quickly,” said Helmlinger.
FEMA funds 75% of federal costs for the project while the state funds the other 25%.
Gov. Bullock says the care facility is part of the state’s planning ahead process if a second spike of Covid-19 cases emerge.
“Something that hopefully we can marvel at and never use, but we know that if something comes up we’re ready for it,” said Bullock.
Once the pandemic ends, the state will remove the patient pods and equipment and store them at a state facility for future care needs.