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Injury Rehab Hospital Opens In Montana

CEO Julie Hauk at the Rehabilitation Hospital of Montana
Kayla Desroches
Yellowstone Public Radio
Rehabilitation Hospital of Montana CEO Julie Hauk stands in the main office of the facility, which opened in Billings on July 5.

A medical center dedicated exclusively to injury rehabilitation opened in Billings this week. They say their facility is unique in the state.

An alarm went off at the Rehabilitation Hospital of Montana on Billings' west end. Staff were testing the alarm system in the neuro wing geared toward patients with brain injuries.

It triggers when a person exits this section of the clinic without a hospital pass, and it’s to make sure that patients who require extra monitoring don’t leave.

Traumatic brain injuries are one of the more common injuries to require physical rehab. CEO Julie Hauk said stroke, diabetes-related amputations and trauma connected with accidents are fairly common across the United States.

She said that’s why Montana needed a hospital like this one.

“A lot of our patients currently go out of state. They go to Denver, they go to Wyoming, they go to Idaho, they go to the Dakotas,” she said. “And now they can stay local, hopefully, or at least closer to home.”

She said Billings Clinic, St. Vincent Healthcare and Kindred Healthcare launched the 34-bed center on Monday. It features multiple spaces with wide, padded physical therapy tables, parallel bars, and exercise machines.

Director of Therapy Randy Kochanowicz said a facility like this one puts all the resources, therapies and assistance to patients in one place.

“They come here and there’s a lot of unknown, uncertainty, a lot of depression, and to be able as a therapist to go in and work with these folks, to let them know that they’re gonna be okay, that we’re here to help them, that we’re gonna get them back home. To be a part of that is very rewarding,” he said.

CEO Julie Hauk said they have a few weeks before they’re up for accreditation, which she’s confident they’ll get. Until then, their few patients are there for free.

She says that’s a chance for staff to get used to the new setting, equipment and day-to-day business of the center.

When fully active, Hauk says costs may range from $15,000 to $25,000, depending on things like medications and length of stay. She says the average stay nationally is 14 days.

Kayla writes about energy policy, the oil and gas industry and new electricity developments.