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  Comments (3) Total Friday Apr. 18, 2014
KRMC Opens New Neuroscience and Spine Institute
Institute gathers the largest team of neurologists and neurosurgeons in the state
Sitting in a conference room at the Neuroscience and Spine Institute, Department of Neurology, at Kalispell Regional Medical Center, Kalispell native Dr. Kurt Lindsay talks about the benefits of having a local team of specialists who focus on brain, spine and nervous system conditions. - Lido Vizzutti/Flathead Beacon
Medical certificates from prestigious institutions across the country adorn the wall inside Dr. Kurt Lindsay’s office on the campus of Kalispell Regional Medical Center. One document distinguishes him as the only full-time stroke physician in Montana.

But there’s a diploma that purposely hangs above all the others, and it’s from Flathead High School.

It’s a symbolic gesture, and helps explain Lindsay’s decision to return to Kalispell when he could have chosen to work about anywhere in the country as a neurologist. There’s no place like home, especially when home is Northwest Montana.

“It’s a great place to live,” Lindsay said. “I’m a little biased, of course. But it’s not a hard place to get physicians to come.”

The recent confluence of medical specialists and surgeons joining Lindsay in Kalispell is proof of that.

With the recent opening of the new Neuroscience and Spine Institute, KRMC is now one of the most capable and comprehensive care centers in the Northwest for dealing with conditions of the brain, spine and nervous system.

The institute has five neurologists, including Lindsay and his older brother Bret, and four neurosurgeons headquartered in the renovated building at 200 Commons Way. Collectively, the neuroscience and spine team is the largest and most highly trained in the state.

For patients, that means Kalispell is now a destination instead of a starting point for medical care relating to neurology and disorders of the brain and spine. In the past, patients who suffered from neurological conditions, like a stroke, needed to be transported to Seattle for treatment.

“We’re able to provide comprehensive care for our patients that we weren’t able to do previously,” said Dr. Frank Bishop, the only fellowship-trained spine neurosurgeon in Montana.

Common conditions in neurology, which is the study of disorders dealing with the nervous system, include multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, strokes, migraines and epilepsy. The medical staff at the institute will also be capable of treating traumatic brain injuries and tumors and spinal conditions.

"Kalispell Regional Medical Center has invested in the talent, technology and facilities to provide this care locally,” said Dr. Thomas Origitano, a neurosurgeon who spent the previous 13 years as the chair of the Department of Neurological Surgery at Loyola University prior to moving to Kalispell.

“It is our vision to become a leading diagnosis, treatment and research center for complex neurological conditions in the state,” Origitano said.

The Neuroscience and Spine Institute will begin fully operating over the next year, with initial care focusing on disorders of the brain, spine and peripheral nerves. The institute will also collaborate with Northwest Healthcare’s Stroke Program.

As the institute expands into additional neurological areas, there will be a major focus on non-surgical neurologic disease, administrators say.

Lindsay said another goal is to expand pediatric services and add a pediatric neurologist who can work with children.

The institute will adopt and build on programs that are already up and running, like the Tele-Stroke Program. Using computers that connect to hospital sites across Northwest Montana, neurologists like Lindsay can inspect stroke patients in a virtual doctor’s visit. These consultations are integral in treating conditions like strokes that need immediate care.

“A stroke is one of those conditions where you really need to make decisions in a short amount of time,” Lindsay said. “(The Tele-Stroke Program) really helps those rural communities a lot, so we can get treatment in those hospitals and emergency rooms.”

The Tele-Stroke Program, established almost nine months ago, currently connects with hospitals in Libby, Whitefish, Ronan and Browning. A fifth connection in Plains is in the works.

This type of innovation illustrates the evolving capabilities at KRMC. Despite its location in a relatively small town without a university institution to build around, the medical care is still remarkable and quickly evolving, Lindsay said.

Last fall the hospital installed a new state-of-the-art X-ray system that allows physicians to conduct an array of minimally invasive procedures. Staff, like Dr. Ben Pomerantz, can now diagnose and treat diseases in nearly every organ system in the least invasive manner possible. Doctors can perform biopsies anywhere in the body, open up blocked blood vessels, inject joints, administer medication for chronic back pain and conduct a large variety of liver and kidney interventions, according to KRMC.

“It’s impressive to have the kind of medical community we have,” Lindsay said. “That really helps the local community. That’s one of the things I always wanted to do, was come back and help the community I grew up in.”

The group of neurologists working in the new Neuroscience and Spine Institute includes Bret and Kurt Lindsay, Donald Stone, formerly of Glacier Neuroscience and Spine, Robert Schimpff and Kristin Yandora. The neurosurgeons are Frank Bishop, Benny Brandvold, Douglas Griffith and T.C. Orgitano, formerly of Northern Rockies Neurosurgery Associates. Camden Kneeland, Laura Pratt and Richard Wise of the Montana Center for Wellness and Pain Management are also now members of the institute as well as John Stephens, the medical director of the hospital’s inpatient rehabilitation program.

A special open house is planned for the public on April 26. The public can tour the new offices and meet the staff of the Neuroscience and Spine Institute.
On 03-14-12, Terri Saubert commented....
I can’t praise enough about Dr Kurt Lindsay!  He literally saved my life, along with many other wonderful doctors here in the valley.  I suffered a mini-stroke at the age of 51 last November 2011, and have completely recovered, thanks to the talents and immediate actions…
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