When Chet Huntley dreamed of creating a world-class resort in Big Sky,
he probably didn’t consider its distance from medical care. After
all, Huntley was born in a small Montana town in 1911, when healthcare
in rural Montana communities was still nearly nonexistent.
But times have changed, and healthcare needs, options and expectations
also have changed considerably since the first skiers hit Big Sky slopes
in 1973. The opening of Bozeman Health Big Sky Medical Center (BSMC) in
December 2015 represented important healthcare enhancements for people
who live, work and visit Big Sky and southern Gallatin County.
For the first 20 years of mountain operations, save for the Big Sky Fire
Department, medical care was more than 50 miles away. Dr. Jeff Daniels
became the community's first local physician when he opened Medical
Clinic of Big Sky at the base of the resort in 1994. Dr. Daniels and his
staff were available around the clock for emergencies.
In 2003, Bozeman Health (then known as Bozeman Deaconess), began planning
for a medical facility in Big Sky, in consultation with resort and business
owners in the community. Two years later, Bozeman Health opened a retail
pharmacy in Big Sky to meet community needs. Also in 2005, the Board approved
purchase of land for the future Big Sky medical facility, and closed the
deal for two acres in 2007.
As the community grew, the Board and the Simkins family, owners and developers
of Big Sky’s Town Center, recognized the property wasn’t large
enough to accommodate medical center expansion that likely would be needed
in the future. The Simkins generously offered to swap a 7-acre parcel
just east of Town Center for the hospital’s two-acre lot.
Dr. Maren Dunn Chandler brought family medicine to Big Sky in 2011 when
she opened Gallatin Family Medicine to serve a town full of young families
who previously had to drive to Bozeman for routine medical care. Gallatin
Family Medicine joined Bozeman Health in 2015 as an affiliate provider.
The ceremonial groundbreaking for the new medical center took place on
the blustery afternoon of September 30, 2013, and construction began in
earnest the following spring. At the end of an intensive building effort,
the new facility celebrated its grand opening with an open house on December
9, 2015, and served its first patients on opening day, December 12, 2015.
Today, five doctors are on medical staff at BSMC and its family medicine
clinic. Also under the same roof are the Big Sky Pharmacy and Lone Peak
Physical Therapy, making BSMC an integrated medical facility meeting many
of the community’s health needs.