STEVENSVILLE - Access to healthcare in Ravalli County is taking a big leap with a groundbreaking on a major new medical clinic.
The freezing fog was persistent, but there was plenty of warm coffee and enthusiasm Wednesday morning, as leaders of Bitterroot Health gathered just off Highway 93 to break ground for the new "Bitterroot Health-Stevensville" clinic.
The 21,000 square foot clinic is another in a line of aggressive moves to expand healthcare to meet Ravalli County's growth.
"As we've looked at our mission and the communities around us these last few years, we've started to take some steps to invest in serving our citizens and our community and the communities that they live," Bitterroot Health CEO John Bishop told the audience.
"And so if you look at clinics that we've opened in Corvallis and Darby and Victor in recent years, and now we're really excited to bring a really special facility here to the Stevensville community," Bishop continued. "We bought a piece of property that we hope will invest further into this community in the years to come."
Bitterroot Health Board of Directors Chair Lois Hedg-Peth was excited to see the project started after some delays because of the pandemic.
"Because the North Valley is growing so much and we just felt like we needed health care right close to the people, and this location came up. We really planned to start in 2020, but COVID made that delayed and now we're very excited to get dirt and shovels going and we'll have this open in '23." Hedg-Peth said.
In addition to primary and urgent care, the clinic will feature rehabilitation services like an aqua therapy pool, labs, and all the tech to take advantage of connecting services like imaging to Bitterroot-Daly Hospital in Hamilton, or other facilities around the region.
Stevensville Mayor Steve Gibson sees a big economic impact from the opening of this new clinic.
"This is probably one of the best things that's happened to Stevensville," Gibson said after the ceremony. "The medical care, the number of employees, just the convenience of the medical care. And of course, Hamilton has a great reputation. Yeah, this is one of the best things I think that's happened to Stevensville for a long time."
"We planned this for future expansion," Hedg-Peth noted. "We have not only doctors' offices and visiting specialists, we have physical therapy. We'll have X-ray. But we'll have room in the future if we continue to grow as we hope we do. There'll be services so people don't have to go one way or the other."