St. John’s Hospital Construction Ahead of Schedule in Libby

By Beacon Staff

LIBBY – A mild winter has expedited construction of the new St. John’s Lutheran Hospital in Libby, which is now months ahead of schedule, according to spokesperson Kate Stephens. Construction began last fall on the new 79,000-square-foot facility that should be completed before the end of the year.

Meanwhile, the hospital is holding a contest to name the new health care facility. So far, people have submitted more than 130 names and the hospital is taking suggestions until April 30.

“Construction is moving along very, very quickly,” Stephens said.

The new facility will include 25 private rooms, an expanded emergency department, larger surgical suites and more recovery rooms. The hospital will be located near the current building on Louisiana Avenue and remain close to the Libby Care Center and Northwest Community Health Center.

Stephens said workers were putting up drywall in parts of the building last week. If work continues at this feverish pace, she said doctors and staff could start moving into the facility in January. Earlier this year, officials estimated the new hospital wouldn’t open until the spring of 2014.

When the new hospital is open, the older building will likely be used for office space or storage, according to Stephens. It will keep the St. John’s Lutheran Hospital name.

“We haven’t ironed everything out yet, but it will be used by the hospital,” she said.

On March 5, the hospital board of trustees decided to reach out to the public and hold a naming contest for the new hospital. The contest began April 1 and the hospital is accepting submissions until April 30. People can submit online, at www.slh.com or at the SJLH Foundation Facebook page. Suggestions can also be mailed to Stephens at 350 Louisiana Ave. Libby, Mont. 59923. The winner of the contest will get $250 “Libby Bucks.”

In a press release, trustees president Steve Sorensen said the community has always been a big supporter of the facility and having a contest is a way for locals to have a stake in their hospital.

“This new hospital is a big deal for our community,” he said. “It’s a fresh start and the perfect time to make these kinds of big changes.”

Stephens said the hospital has received many suggestions. Once the contest is closed, hospital administration will narrow down the suggestions and present the finalists to the board of trustees.

“There are a lot of suggestions for Cabinet View and Kootenai Falls, sort of taking off on our surrounding area,” she said.

Anyone who submits a name that is already being considered would be sent an email asking them to try again. Submissions must include the participant’s name, address, phone number and email address to be considered a valid entry.

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