After careful deliberation, the Coeur d’Alene Tribe and the City of Plummer innovatively collaborated in a joint venture to address the health care needs on the Reservation. A community-based rural health outpatient care delivery system was planned and developed in 1987. A commitment was made to provide health care services to both the Indian and Non-Indian population. This collaboration between the Tribe and the City of Plummer is believed to be the first joint venture in the United States between a tribe and city municipality for the purpose of providing health care for all residents. The Tribe and the City collectively secured State and Federal funding which led to the construction of a 6,750 square foot building that opened on June 4, 1990. This became known as Phase I in the development of the Benewah Medical Center complex, establishing primary medical care to the local community.
The Coeur d’Alene Tribe and City of Plummer, Idaho had the vision to establish a highly successful basic primary medical and dental health care system and address the acute health care needs of the community. Because of the strong demand for services, a Phase II plan was developed and the facility was expanded from 6,750 square feet of space to nearly 17,000 square feet in February, 1994. This expansion provided additional medical exam rooms, a five chair dental wing, increased space for pharmacy services, counseling, community health programs, administrative offices, and conference rooms.
A significant achievement in these processes was BMC’s ability to obtain a Medically Underserved Population (MUP) designation from the Idaho Governors office and acceptance from the U.S. Public Health Service, Division of Shortage Designation. Since 1996 the Medical Center has received funding from the Bureau of Primary Health Care as part of its’ Community Health Center Program. This has allowed us to provide care on a sliding fee basis. Currently over 30% of our patients qualify for our sliding fee program. The BMC service area includes the entire Coeur d'Alene Indian Reservation, central and western Benewah County, and rural portions of Kootenai, Latah, Whitman, and Spokane Counties.
With the health care industry moving toward a prevention and wellness focus during the past few years, the Tribe advocated for a multi-purpose Wellness Center. Planning and fundraising efforts began in late 1994 to construct a 43,000 square foot, $5 million dollar Wellness Center. The Tribe successfully reached its goal to open a center which would expand its focus from acute and chronic illness care to include one of prevention, wellness, and health maintenance.
This Wellness Center was built debt-free from a variety of funding sources including Federal, State, private and BMC equity. Tribal gaming revenue was not used in this project. On July 18, 1998, the five year dream to open a wellness center became a reality. Programs and services include a five- lane 100,000 gallon lap pool, separate therapy pool, hot tub, kiddy pool, physical and cardiac therapy. A full-size basketball and racquetball court, indoor walking track, aerobics room, cardio fitness area with state of the art equipment and conference center completed the Wellness Center. Alternative therapies are being considered as part of our wellness approach. This project has significant potential in terms of overall community health and wellness with the connections to an ambulatory health care facility. These are remarkable achievements in light of the fact that none of the current and future services were in this community prior to June, 1990.
The Wellness Center’s highly trained professional fitness staff provide up-to-date wellness information, complete fitness assessments and individualized exercise programs. Innovative pool programs include a wide variety of classes that draw from swimming, aerobics, dance and circuit training to provide a stimulating workout. Different teaching styles range from high intensity to a softer, gentler offering for the beginner or injured individual.
Due to the high demand for healthcare services in the region, Benewah Medical Center once again outgrew the facility built in Phase II. In 2010, BMC was awarded a grant for the construction of a new facility. By that time BMC had staff, departments and services in 5 different buildings. The combination of the grant dollars, contributions from the Coeur d’Alene Tribe and matching funds from BMC allowed for the construction of a new $17 million facility.
Opened in October of 2012, this 50,000 square foot facility brought all of BMC's clinical and administrative services under one roof. With more exam rooms, dental operatories, enhanced space in pharmacy, lab, counseling services, community health and administration, Benewah Medical and Wellness Center has room to continue to grow and expand services to the community.