It takes a healthy village

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Itís chilling to think where our community would be without Heritage Health.

Known primarily as the full-fledged health care solution for 30,000 local patients regardless of their ability to pay, Heritage has made a spectacular recovery from serious difficulties late last year and early this year.

The Press recently chronicled some of the important steps Heritage has taken to turn the ship around, which included laying off 30 employees.

ďWe got to a spot at the end of the year where we had to recalibrate and strengthen the base of the organization, which we have done and weíre doing very, very well now,Ē CEO Mike Baker told The Press.

As Baker would likely say if you asked him, though, Heritage couldnít do it alone. In this era of massive, rapid change, which has disrupted the health care industry more than most, stability is critical. And in Kootenai County medical circles, stability is generally linked to Kootenai Health.

A big part of the reason Heritage isnít on life support is because the Kootenai Health board of directors unanimously wrote off half a million dollars it was owed. Talk about a financial boost to fuel a turnaround. Heritage Health also has been aided by its strong relationship with Mountain West Bank.

The point is, our entire community benefits from the kind of cooperation demonstrated by the Heritage Health turnaround. Kootenai Health is well along a path of unprecedented expansion under CEO Jon Ness, who understands that a healthy Heritage is good for everyone involved, including his hospital. But forgiving a half-million dollar debt is going far beyond professional courtesy. It is the mark of an organization that is inextricably rooted in the community it serves.

Itís our hope that Heritage Health remains on firm financial footing because itís so important ó not just for physical health services but for the mental health assistance it provides. Heritage is on the front lines of our communityís battle with opioid addiction, a war few are willing or able to confront. Kootenai County would be greatly diminished without this stalwart provider.

Yet one of the greatest things about our community is the willingness of so many to step forward just because itís the right thing to do.

Teamwork, you know, will get you everywhere.

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