New Westshore Medical Clinic and gym expands KRMC’s reach in the valley, and brings services closer to Lakeside residents

WELL STORY BY MOLLY PRIDDY | PHOTOS BY GREG LINDSTROM
Life in Northwest Montana is full of sensory experiences, with the jaw-dropping beauty of the scenery, the feel of a fresh breeze coming off Flathead Lake, the fresh smell of the forests and numerous opportunities to move through such places.

Enjoying life up here comes with its risks and rewards, and in Lakeside, the folks at the Westshore Medical Clinic and gym are dedicated to helping residents stay healthy and fit enough to enjoy their surroundings.

The medical clinic, a department of Kalispell Regional Medical Center, opened in January, and since then has gained notoriety as a well-rounded primary care facility for both regular and walk-in patients.

“Our patient load is expanding on a weekly basis,” Shawn Cowan, clinical supervisor in Lakeside, said. “It’s just getting busier.”

As a branch of KRMC, the Lakeside clinic offers primary care services in its four exam rooms, and is stocked for and capable of performing medical procedures like X-rays, EKGs, skin biopsies, prompt care visits, pediatrics, geriatrics, and more.

If there’s a situation that would be better served at the emergency room in Kalispell, the clinic works tightly with the Lakeside Quick Response Unit and its ambulance transport capacity to ensure patients have the best care.

“It’s very convenient for patients,” Cowan said.

The decision to open the Westshore Medical Clinic, which sits at the revamped Lakeside Town Center on Stoner Loop Road, was born of a community request from Lakeside, Jim Oliverson, vice president at KRMC, said.

“It’s a neat thing,” Oliverson said. “It’s a call from the community that said, if we can, we don’t want to have to drive to Kalispell and fight the snow and ice in the winter and the tourist traffic in the summer.”

Currently, the Westshore Medical Clinic has two physicians and one nurse practitioner on staff, with at least one of them in the clinic at all open hours, Cowan said, and the clinic is also looking at adding another full-time physician to its roster.

In keeping with the idea of providing healthy opportunities in Kalispell, KRMC also decided to add a gym to their efforts in Lakeside, manifested in the Westshore Medical Fitness Center, located just upstairs from the clinic.

The gym, which is a branch of the Summit, has new, state-of-the-art equipment, such as the treadmills and stairclimbers situated in front of expansive windows overlooking the lake and the mountain vistas.

There had been a gym in Lakeside for about a decade, Bob Norwood, the health and fitness operations manager at the Summit, said, but this new, 4,800-square-foot facility is a more-than-suitable replacement.

“People absolutely love it,” Norwood said.

Westshore Medical Fitness Center

Westshore Medical Fitness Center

The new gym has a full cardio area, free weights, select-rise equipment, locker rooms, showers, and a room for classes. The classes aren’t live, however; a gym member selects the class they’d like to take, ranging from yoga to stretching to cycling, and a wall-sized screen projects the class.

Each class is recorded in a professional studio and accounts for varying levels of fitness, and can fit into nearly any schedule.

“It’s very popular,” Norwood said. “The folks down there like it a lot.”

Since the gym has only been up and running since January, people are still catching on that it’s open, he said, but so far there are about 100 members, including the 63 who carried over from the previous gym’s closure.

People can join the Lakeside gym exclusively for $39 a month, he said, but Summit members also have full, free access to the gym as well. This works for those who might work in Kalispell during the week and attend the Summit, but then don’t want to make the drive for a workout on the weekend.

When the old gym shut down, most of the equipment was donated to the Lakeside QRU’s new building, giving the staff there a chance to get in a real workout. It’s a symbiotic relationship, Oliverson said, because the QRU in turn works with the medical clinic to ensure the people of Lakeside get the care they need.

Cowan echoed that statement, saying the partnerships in Lakeside are tight because the community is that way, with everyone working together to create a place with more and better services.

Strengthening KRMC’s relationship with Lakeside is an added bonus of the clinic, Oliverson said.

“We’re delighted that we were able to do it and the community has responded to it so well,” he said. “It’s a very special community; it’s very tight, very contemporary and very proud.”

For more information on the Westshore Medical Clinic and Fitness, visit www.kalispellregional.org/nwhc/medical-practices/westshore-medical-clinic or call 406-844-0541.