There's a lot of upbeat talk around Kootenai Health these days and the word "new" features prominently in all of it.
First and foremost, on Tuesday Kootenai launched a new organizational logo as part of its rebranding campaign. The logo - which has been called the "spark" - was designed to represent the hospital's vision for the future.
"The spark is a symbol of our growth and integration," said Jon Ness, Kootenai Health's CEO. "In the past, our brand has been the letter 'K' - that 'K' has existed for 29 years. The old brand is now being retired and we will have evolved from the old to the new."
For those of you who weren't exactly sure how to refer to Kootenai, let there no longer be any question. From this day forward the name is "Kootenai Health."
"Yes, there has been some confusion about our name and one of the goals of this rebranding is to affirm that the name of the hospital is Kootenai Health (KH) and that we are retiring the name Kootenai Medical Center," Ness said. "KMC has been a good friend to us for many decades, but we are not the same organization we were when KMC became the name of this hospital."
And as for some of the other Kootenai Health "news," there's now a new special care nursery for premature babies, a new electrophysiology lab for treating heart arrhthymias, and a new linear accelerator for cancer treatments. Coming up after the first of the year will be a new family medicine residency program. And hovering in the future are some facility expansion plans.
All of the above is in the service of Kootenai Health becoming the primary resource for all of North Idaho's medical needs.
"For the past many decades, Kootenai Health has been a really good community hospital providing for local health care needs," Ness said. "As we continue our journey, we want to provide even more services."
One of the new programs Kootenai is in the process of developing is a healthcare model becoming increasingly popular around the nation: the Patient Centered Medical Home. Ness said Kootenai Health is working toward PCMH certification.
"PCMH is a plan based on a new model of care based on physicians, mid-level providers and nurse navigators. What it means is more services at a lower cost in a convenient location for Idaho residents. It means better care closer to home."
In an industry where hospital acquisitions and mergers are everyday occurrences, Ness said Kootenai does not have plans to be acquired by any other institution.
"At this point, no," he said. "Kootenai Health has been and continues to be a very stable organization financially. For all hospitals, this is a time of big change. Along with reimbursement decreases and increasingly complex billing, patient care and medical record-keeping, there is an enormous amount of market positioning by major healthcare organizations."
Ness maintains that when it comes to medical care, people in the five counties of North Idaho should give Idaho a chance.
"We want to be known for providing the best possible care at the lowest price for all patients that need or want to be seen (by a medical professional) in our region," Ness said.
Ben Tran, of the local graphic design company Tran Creative, stands in front of a bus decorated with the new Kootenai Health logo which he spent over a year designing, at the launch of the new brand Tuesday evening at Kootenai Medical Center.