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Buhl clinic groundbreaking

CEO Tim Powers, center right, holds his hat so the wind won't steal it March 29 during the groundbreaking ceremony at the site of the new North Canyon Medical Center clinic in Buhl.

GOODING — Gooding-based North Canyon Medical Center plans to open a primary care and orthopedics clinic in northeast Twin Falls this spring.

It will be North Canyon’s first offering in Twin Falls. Hospital officials are looking to move into an existing building — which hasn’t been finished out yet — on Eastland Drive near The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ temple. The clinic will likely be up and running in April.

In Twin Falls — the region’s population and health care hub — St. Luke’s Magic Valley Medical Center is the only hospital in town. North Canyon wants to provide residents with more health care options and is also eyeing future expansion in the Magic Valley.

In conversations with Twin Falls residents, they’ve expressed a desire for more health care options, said Tim Powers, chief executive officer for North Canyon Medical Center. ”It became pretty obvious to us that not only should we open a clinic in the Twin Falls market, but complement that with orthopedics as well.”

It’s the first step of a broader initiative. North Canyon officials have meetings scheduled next week in Jerome about the possibility of opening a clinic there, too, Powers said. Plus, “we will be evaluating other areas in the greater Twin Falls market.”

North Canyon leaders hope to finalize a contract for tenant improvements to its future Twin Falls clinic building within the next week. An architect has already done some preliminary drawings.

The Twin Falls clinic — which will house one primary care provider and one orthopedic physician — will be on the opposite side of town from St. Luke’s hospital.

“We thought that was a really good area for us to be,” Powers said, and “not go toe-to-toe with St. Luke’s.”

In May, Gooding County residents voted overwhelmingly — with 87 percent support —to dissolve North Canyon’s hospital taxing district and allow it to become a nonprofit. The hospital had already cut tax revenue out of its operating budget in July 2017.

The change means North Canyon — an 18-bed critical access hospital that’s independent and locally controlled by a board of directors — can now expand outside its primary Gooding County service area.

After conducting a feasibility study, results showed expansion was a difficult proposition, Powers told the Times-News in summer 2018, but the board felt it was the right avenue economically to support the hospital.

Construction is nearly done on a new family practice clinic — which will also house rotating specialists — in Buhl. A ribbon cutting ceremony is slated for Jan. 18.

After evaluating needs in Buhl, North Canyon officials looked at the possibility of expanding into Twin Falls.

The hospital has hired a North Carolina orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Toby Anderton, who is slated to begin at North Canyon on March 18. Anderton will be the full-time orthopedic surgeon at the new Twin Falls clinic.

Powers said he’d like the Twin Falls clinic to be ready by March 18 when Anderton stars, but the space likely won’t be ready until April.

As for other Twin Falls health care options, Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center — which operates in Boise, Nampa, and Ontario and Baker City, Ore. — was in talks in summer 2017 with city officials about building a hospital and emergency department in Twin Falls. It contacted the city’s building department and asked to meet about a conceptual plan. But nothing has been announced since then.

Beyond hospitals, a handful of providers — including Family Health Services and independent physicians — are also in Twin Falls.

In November, Pocatello-based Portneuf Health Partners announced gastroenterologist Dr. Judith Csanky will see patients in Twin Falls in addition to Pocatello, but a Portneuf spokesman said the hospital has no further plans of expanding into the Magic Valley.

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