September 26, 2022

BILLINGS – Billings Clinic on Friday announced the opening of a new patient care unit.

The Intermediate Care Unit is slated to open June 6 and will act as a bridge between the Intensive Care Unit and the Medical/Surgical inpatient units, the hospital said in a press release.

The new 30,000 square-foot unit is part of an ongoing $20 million construction project that includes the two new floors for patient bed space.

“We’ve seen an increase in the acuity of our inpatients over the last two years and the Intermediate Care Unit will provide more space to care for many of them,” Christy Baxter, RN, Billings Clinic Director of Critical Care, said in the press release. “It’s a shift in how we look at critical care, from a single unit to a division within our hospital that works together to meet the needs of our patients.”

Here’s the full press release:

Billings Clinic will open its new Intermediate Care Unit (IMC) to patients on June 6, providing care for more complex and longer-term patients in a modern, healing and state-of-the-art 28-bed unit. It is the first unit to be completed and opened in Billings Clinic’s construction of two new floors of planned patient beds, and the first unit of its kind in the region.

“The Intermediate Care Unit is a new resource for our patients in a beautiful space that meets their specific needs,” said Billings Clinic CEO Scott Ellner, DO. “It delivers on a promise Billings Clinic made several years ago to expand beds in our hospital to meet the growing needs of thousands of patients from across our region. We are incredibly excited and honored to open this new unit.”

The newly built, 30,000-square-foot IMC will provide care for patients with high-acuity needs, serving as a bridge between the Intensive Care Unit, where the most critical patients are cared for, and Medical/Surgical inpatient units. It will serve patients for a wide range of medical diagnoses including, but not limited to, sepsis, diabetic ketoacidosis, complex wounds, neurological conditions that require frequent monitoring, COVID-19 patients or those in respiratory distress, and tracheostomies and/or chronic ventilator use. The unit can also provide ICU-level monitoring for patients as needed.

A team of physicians, nurses, CNAs, clerks, techs and other support staff will staff the unit to ensure 24/7 care for patients.

“We have a team of highly-skilled, well-trained, adaptable and compassionate people to take care of patients whenever they need us,” said Jennifer Macks, RN, the new unit’s manager. “We know that we’re going to care for a wide range of people, and we’re ready for that. This unit fills a real need with a dedicated space for patients who are between needing critical care services and medical or surgical inpatient care.”

The Intermediate Care Unit was built as part of a more than $20 million major construction project at Billings Clinic to build two new floors for patient bed space on the east side of the hospital, above the Family Birth Center and Pediatrics, along North 27th Street. Construction has been underway for two years to add two entirely new levels to the building and create the ability to expand other areas. The fourth floor, which remains under construction, will be used for future bed expansion.

Increasing inpatient numbers combined with COVID-19 hospitalization surges over the last several years have highlighted the need for more beds in hospitals across the country. The IMC will help to meet that need at Billings Clinic with 28 new beds that can provide care for a wide variety of patients. It is an adaptable and modern space that helps to relieve pressure and open up space in the ICU and other inpatient units.

“We’ve seen an increase in the acuity of our inpatients over the last two years and the Intermediate Care Unit will provide more space to care for many of them,” said Christy Baxter, RN, Billings Clinic Director of Critical Care. “It’s a shift in how we look at critical care, from a single unit to a division within our hospital that works together to meet the needs of our patients.”

The IMC was designed with a thoughtful approach to create an overall healing environment that encourages recovery while ensuring patients feel comfortable in their care space. Rooms are located along the outside edges of the unit, while staff areas and nursing stations are centrally-located in the middle area.

Each room is spacious, with space to accommodate families or other visitors, and features large windows to both allow for as much natural light as possible and provide beautiful views of the surrounding area. They also feature modern technology, including new lifts to ease the movement of patients. The unit is acuity adaptable, meaning it can escalate and change room-by-room to meet each individual patient’s specific needs.

Billings Clinic is currently the busiest trauma center in Montana and Wyoming and recently announced its intent to become a Level 1 Trauma Center. The opening of the IMC will further efforts on the Level 1 Trauma journey while attracting additional care staff and freeing up space in other inpatient units. As a Level I Trauma Center, Billings Clinic will provide the care and resources to treat every type of injury, no matter how serious, at any time. It means a community-focused, integrated system of care will be available to all in need, with a trauma network to link health care facilities across the region to ensure that every step in a trauma patient’s care journey is connected.