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Northern Rockies Medical Center (NRMC) shareholders nearly unanimously voted to move forward with becoming Logan Health-Cut Bank. Shareholders cast 6,999 “yes” votes to proceed with the “member substitution agreement “to strengthen healthcare services in the Hi-Line Region of Montana.” Three abstaining votes were cast, but not a single “no” vote was received, reported NRMC officials after the votes were tallied at the annual shareholders’ meeting on May 5. NRMC is one of three hospitals in the process of partnering with the Logan Health system. The others are the Pondera Medical Center in Conrad and Marias Medical Center in Shelby. NRMC trustees, administration and staff on hand for the signing of documents following the vote were, left to right, Dr. Andy Engdahl, Dr. Hank Clay Jr., Brian Suttle, Dr. Mark Haemig, Butch Gillespie, Larry Schwindt, Gail Davis, Rick Billman, Cherie Taylor, Lon Peterson, Dr. Craig Lambrecht, Rich Gannon, and Linda Luther.

The board of directors of Northern Rockies Medical Center (NRMC) voted unanimously at their March 30 meeting to a membership substitution agreement with Logan Health in Kalispell. The vote was endorsed by NRMC members at the group’s annual corporate meeting on May 5.

The membership substitution agreement (MSA) makes Logan Health the sole corporate member of NRMC. With this arrangement, NRMC will operate under the Logan Health banner, changing its name to Logan Health — Cut Bank. NRMC is one of three hospitals in the Hi-Line Region in the process of joining the Logan Health system.

The new system/partnership gives the hospitals the opportunity to scale and share resources while also improving physician recruitment efforts and retention of staff. The single-member model offers NRMC a great deal of local control while also allowing the medical center to enjoy the benefits of being part of a larger organization. As part of the agreement, NRMC will retain its local board of directors. The plan also ensures that donations to NRMC will stay local.  

“Hospitals across America are under extreme financial pressure, and hospitals like NRMC face tough economic headwinds since we were not part of a larger system,” says Cherie Taylor, NRMC CEO. “Revenues for rural hospitals have decreased dramatically in the past two decades. This relationship has the potential to bring NRMC greater financial strength while ensuring continuity of care well into the future.”

The goal is to begin integrating NRMC with Logan Health on June 1. The board considered Logan Health’s vision of a local, regional care model to be the best situation for the community.

“Logan Health has an excellent reputation and a wide array of services that will enhance what we do locally,” said Treasure Berkram, NRMC’s chief financial officer. “From a long-range perspective, this is the direction that we needed to go. We’ve looked at other partners to do this journey with us. The mission, vision and values of Logan Health align so well with those of NRMC.” 

As part of the agreement, Logan Health will help NRMC enhance specialty services, upgrade the medical center’s infrastructure, electronic medical health record and improve staff benefits. 

“As a 17-year member of the hospital’s board and a local business owner, I appreciate this opportunity to ensure the people of Glacier County will have access to exceptional local health care,” stated Rick Billman, chair of the NRMC volunteer board. “The ultimate goal is better care for our patients and making sure NRMC is here for the long haul. Having health care services locally and regionally is vital. For many years the hospitals in Cut Bank and Kalispell have enjoyed a great relationship. Kalispell has always been willing to step up when we needed help, providing services like radiology readings. A more enhanced relationship will put us in a better position financially. We absolutely think the future of NRMC is connected to working with Logan Health.”

Taylor agrees.

“Since 1949, NRMC has successfully met the health care needs of the Cut Bank area. We are excited about the partnership and the steps we are taking to ensure we are well-positioned to keep health care close to home for years to come,” she said.

NRMC is a critical access hospital (CAH), located about 120 miles from Logan Health. By law, CAHs are small, with no more than 25 inpatient beds and a stay of no more than 96 hours on average per patient. NRMC has around 70 full-time employees, including about six physicians and advanced practice clinicians.

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