Spokane Journal of Business

Ernest Health, Kootenai Health joint venture to develop Post Falls rehab hospital

KMC parent combines resources with Ernest Health for rehab facility

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Ernest Health Inc., the Albuquerque, N.M.-based health care provider that operates an acute-care hospital in Post Falls, says it's partnering with Coeur d'Alene-based Kootenai Health, to construct a 30-bed rehabilitation hospital there that it expects will create 120 new jobs.

Construction is scheduled to start in the spring and to be completed in late 2013, says Linda Murphy, a Post Falls-based spokeswoman for Ernest Health.

A contractor hasn't been selected yet for the project, which Albuquerque-based architecture firm Dekker/Perich/Sabatini designed, Murphy says.

The new hospital, to be called Rehabilitation Hospital of the Northwest, will be located in a 33,000-square-foot free-standing facility on the North Idaho Advanced Care Hospital campus, at 600 N. Cecil, in the Post Falls medical district northeast of the city center. Ernest Health also operates NIACH.

The Rehabilitation Hospital of the Northwest will provide intensive physical rehabilitation services to patients recovering from strokes, head and spinal cord injuries, and other loss of function due to injury or illness, Ernest Health says.

The anticipated cost of the planned facility wasn't disclosed, and Ernest Health hasn't applied yet to the city of Post Falls for a building permit. NIACH, a 36,000-square-foot, 40-bed facility that opened in 2006, cost $15 million to build.

While Ernest Health says support from Kootenai Health was instrumental, Murphy declines to disclose details about how resources will be shared in the joint venture between for-profit Ernest Health and Kootenai Health, the hospital district that operates Kootenai Medical Center.

"High-level rehabilitation services are an important part of comprehensive health care community," says Jon Ness, Kootenai Health CEO, in a press release about the joint venture. "Kootenai Health is committed to providing quality health care close to home."

NIACH provides advanced long-term acute care, including intensive care, for patients who require time to heal from catastrophic injury or illness.

Ernest Health owns and operates facilities in nine states including Idaho and Montana.

Steve Griffitts, of the Coeur d'Alene Economic Development Council, says the hospital will contribute significantly to the job base in Kootenai County's health care sector.

"The proposed rehabilitation facility will create scores of highly qualified career opportunities and has the potential to positively affect hundreds of families in Kootenai County and North Idaho," Griffitts says.

Mike McLean
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Reporter Mike McLean covers real estate and construction at the Journal of Business. A multipurpose fisherman and vintage record album aficionado, Mike has worked for the Journal since 2006.

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