St. Alphonsus considers hospital in Twin Falls

Over the summer, Saint Alphonsus Health System was in talks with city officials about building a hospital in Twin Falls.

It contacted the city’s building department and asked to meet about a conceptual plan. In an email to the city obtained by the Times-News in August, the health care system mentioned plans to build a hospital and emergency department in Twin Falls.

Additional details were scarce.

In August, Jarrod Bordi — the head of the city’s building department — confirmed the city’s discussions with Saint Alphonsus but declined to discuss specifics, saying he could be revealing industry trade secrets if he provided details.

Saint Alphonsus spokesman Joshua Schlaich confirmed discussions were underway, but said it was too preliminary to formally announce any plans.

For now, St. Luke’s Magic Valley Medical Center is the only hospital in Twin Falls.

New medical offices

St. Luke’s Magic Valley broke ground on a medical office building in early 2017. The nearly 58,000 square-foot, two-story building is on its hospital campus west of the outpatient surgery center.

The $27.2 million project is expected to wrap up in February 2018.

The offices will accommodate internal medicine, endocrinology and diabetes management, otolaryngology, rehabilitation services, occupational health and outpatient imaging services. Space in the internal medicine area will be designated for behavioral health and care managers.

About 15 current providers will move over when the building opens and the hospital plans to recruit additional providers.

In Buhl, St. Luke’s began construction this fall on a new 5,700-square-foot clinic on Burley Avenue.

It will allow for a wider variety of services — including X-ray equipment and mental health care — so residents don’t have to travel 30 minutes to Twin Falls as often.

The estimated $2.4 million project is slated for completion in mid-to-late 2018. It will replace St. Luke’s existing building on Broadway Avenue South, which has been in use since January 2014.

No more hospital taxing district in Gooding?

North Canyon Medical Center in Gooding announced in September it’s considering dissolving its taxpayer-supported hospital district. Instead, it wants to become its own nonprofit.

The hospital filed a L-2 budget request with Gooding County, meaning it wants to eliminate tax revenue from its operating budget for next fiscal year.

Dissolving the hospital district, which was created in 1986, would require community support via a petition and approval by Gooding County Commissioners. The district has collected about $800,000 each year in tax revenue.

North Canyon Medical Center has operated for nearly a decade and took over Gooding County Memorial Hospital. A new hospital opened in 2010 and a medical plaza opened in 2016.

New Cassia hospital leader

Benjamin Smalley was hired in July as Cassia Regional Hospital‘s new administrator. He replaced Rod Barton, who retired after seven years on the job.

Smalley COURTESY PHOTO

Smalley was previously administrator and chief executive officer of Intermountain Bear River Valley Hospital in Tremonton, Utah.

“I am excited to be part of Mini-Cassia and become familiar with the community,” Smalley said in July. “I look forward to building friendships, establishing lasting connections, and helping Cassia Regional make a difference in helping the community live the healthiest lives possible.”

Triumphs over medical issues

Throughout the year, the Times-News wrote about Magic Valley residents who were struggling with medical challenges or injuries, and overcoming the odds.

Among them were CSI rodeo athlete Braxten Nielsen walking out of a Salt Lake City hospital two months after doctors told him he’d be paralyzed from the waist down after an August rodeo accident, and Filer 12-year-old Mia Trease battling bone cancer and recovering from rotationplasty surgery.

College of Southern Idaho rodeo athlete Braxten Nielsen, 24, is pictured in September 2017 at the University of Utah Hospital in Salt Lake City. COURTESY PHOTO

Another was Rainna Crabb, a baby born in March at 24 weeks gestation at St. Luke’s Magic Valley Medical Center in Twin Falls. She weighed just 1 lb., 1 ounce and was 11 inches long. Her original due date was July 2.

After four months at St. Luke’s Children’s Hospital Newborn Intensive Care Unit in Boise, Rainna was finally able to come home to Hansen.