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Bear Lake Memorial Continues Plans for New MRI

By: Julie Dockstader Heaps

Administrators at nationally recognized Bear Lake Memorial are continuing fundraising efforts for a new MRI as part of larger efforts to expand hospital facilities.

   “We’ve been fundraising for an MRI for the past year,” Tracy Park, the hospital foundation’s executive director, said recently during an SVI Media interview. However, he added, “This project has grown from an MRI, a piece of equipment, to a renovation of our hospital’s ER suite and our radiology suite.

   “We’re working towards adding more to our hospital so our patients can come here for services and receive an MRI on site rather than having to wait for a traveling MRI. It’s a really great thing to come to our facility.”

   Park spoke with Sarah Hale of SVI Media along with hospital CEO Dennis Carlson, who has been at Bear Lake Memorial for nearly three years. Lauding the foresight of hospital administrators over the years “well before I showed up,” Carlson emphasized the benefits of an on-site MRI for the region.

   “The MRI [currently utilized] is on a trailer owned by a hospital cooperative [that goes] from hospital to hospital from Salmon, Idaho, to the Utah border into Wyoming. We have that twice a week, but there’s a broader need,” he said. “With the support of our awesome foundation, we are pushing forward to be able to add to that list of capabilities that helps the folks in this area receive high quality care here at home.”

   Among other capabilities available now at Bear Lake Memorial that are “atypical to a critical access hospital,” Carlson explained, are a dialysis center, chemotherapy services, obstetrics and delivery, and a full complement of therapy services.

   Park told SVI that Bear Lake Memorial has been certified as a level IV trauma center in Idaho. “That’s a big deal. That sets us apart from other rural hospitals.”

   Bear Lake Memorial has been recognized by the National Rural Health Association as a top 100 rural access hospital, among some 1,300 facilities, Park added. And in 2018, the hospital was awarded as a Top 20 Critical Access Hospital as determined by The Chartis Center for Rural Health.

   “Others around the country are noticing and seeing what we’re doing. We really have an amazing staff at our hospital in southeastern Idaho.”