Faced with too many patients and too little time, the Benewah Medical Center has stopped accepting most new patients.
“They extended their hours to 10 hours a day, five days a week. They aren’t able to extend themselves any further,” said Donna Matheson, communications director for the Coeur d’Alene Indian Tribe, which runs the clinic.
Family members of current patients can still sign up for medical care at the center, she said. The center will also accept emergency cases, she said.
In five years, the clinic’s medical rolls have grown from a few hundred to about 5,000, according to director Gary Leva.
The limit on medical care is effective immediately, but only temporary, clinic officials said. Dental and other services are still open.
The tribe built a 6,750-square-foot clinic in 1990, spending $1.4 million last year to expand to 18,000 square feet. The facility is unusual because it uses federal money from the Indian Health Service, private funds, insurance and reimbursements from Medicaid and Medicare. It serves both Indian and non-Indian patients.
The tribe is considering a third phase of expansion. It would include facilities for preventive health care, fitness and therapy, Matheson said.
The tribe tabled the proposal last year.
“I think it’s coming back into the limelight again,” she said.