Where’s the Hospital?

By Beacon Staff

At Whitefish’s City Council meeting Monday night, North Valley Hospital officials brought in 126 written complaints from people who couldn’t find the hospital due to a lack of signs.

“Somebody will die if they can’t find the hospital,” Dr. Ken McFadden said.

After about an hour of discussion, the council unanimously approved a temporary signage solution. The city will put up a sign at the U.S. Highway 93 access with both “North Valley Hospital” and “E” for emergency written on it. Deputy Mayor Cris Coughlin attached a friendly amendment to put up an “H” sign with an arrow downtown and coming from U.S. Highway 40.

The temporary signs can be up for 180 days. In the meantime the city will decide whether to make them permanent or find other solutions.

Council member Nancy Woodruff had one request for the Highway 93 sign: “Make it big.”

Doctors, nurses and community members told stories of sick people who barely made it to the hospital in time because they or their drivers had been looking for the hospital for a half hour or longer. One man who had almost cut off his finger stopped in at a Conoco to ask for directions.

Access is another issue. Doctors, nurses and hospital board members said the entrance from Highway 93 forces people going south from Whitefish to take an illegal, dangerous left turn.

Chief of Police Mike Ferda proposed a one-way entrance to the hospital to help funnel traffic for safety. Coughlin expressed skepticism over the council’s qualifications to make such a decision without traffic and road specialists. Access will be discussed in future council meetings.

The council also:
-Awarded Applied Communications a $21,200 Housing Needs Assessment contract
-Awarded Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway a $1,112,765 water improvements contract for Texas Avenue
-Awarded Anderson-Montgomery Engineers a $321,390 wastewater system improvements consultant contract
-Approved the Insurance Committee’s determination on health insurance coverages and expenses for fiscal year 2007-2008

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