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The History of Kootenai Health

Kootenai Health has a rich history that spans nearly 60 years of innovation, achievements and benchmarks in healthcare. The following chronology lists some of the most memorable moments from Kootenai's past and present.

1950s | 1960s1970s1980s1990s2000s2010s


The Kootenai Hospital District is created when the medical needs of the local population outgrow the capacity of Lake City General and Coeur d'Alene General Hospitals.

A larger, more modern facility is clearly needed. With support from local businessmen, construction starts at Seventh and Hazel using materials from dismantled barracks, which were originally located near Bayview, Idaho, at the Farragut Naval Training Station.

To oversee the Kootenai Hospital District, the first seven members of the board of trustees are appointed by the Kootenai County Commissioners.


Voters pass a $1.6 million general obligation bond and work begins on building Kootenai Memorial Hospital.


Kootenai Memorial Hospital opens its doors on November 1.

Half the cost of construction is funded by a federal grant. The other half is provided by a general obligation property tax levy, approved by over two-thirds of Kootenai County's voters in a special election.

Kootenai Memorial replaces the outdated 36-bed Lake City General Hospital and 36-bed Coeur d'Alene General Hospital. Both are acquired by the Kootenai Hospital District and close with Memorial's opening.


The Kootenai Memorial Auxiliary is founded. To this day, it remains a strong supporter of the hospital.

1970 - 1978

Building projects in 1970, 1972, and 1978 doubled the hospital's bed capacity from 92 to 181.


Kootenai Health's teen volunteer program starts. Originally called “candy stripers,” in reference to their striped uniforms, the teen volunteers now number approximately 100 each year.


Joe Morris is named CEO of Kootenai Memorial Hospital.


Groundbreaking takes place on the three-story, 154,000-square-foot addition that some call “Big Blue.”


From an Oct. 23, 1983 article in Spokesman-Review:

The giant blue whale on Coeur d’Alene’s Lincoln Way is getting ready to make waves in Kootenai County and beyond. Waves in health care available to Coeur d’Alene and the surrounding area, that is. The “whale” is a $21 million addition to Kootenai Memorial Hospital.

“We get more phone calls about the color of the thing than what’s going inside,” Joe Morris, hospital administrator said, with a chuckle. “When we tell people that the bright blue color is just a protective wrap for the aluminum exterior of the building that will be peeled way, some are relieved and some are disappointed.”

But everyone, hospital staff and patients alike, should be pleased with what the added 154,000 square feet will have to offer, Morris said.

The same year, the Kootenai Memorial Foundation is established for the benefit of Kootenai and its patients.

Since then, the community has generously donated almost $19 million to help provide hospital programs and services that might not otherwise have been available.


A grand-opening ceremony takes place July 15 to celebrate the new $21 million addition, and to announce the hospital’s new name, Kootenai Medical Center. CEO Joe Morris helps open the doors.

The facility is a 246-bed community-owned district hospital and is guided by a publicly elected board of directors with daily operations overseen by administrative staff.

From a July 1984 article in the Coeur d’Alene Press:

The huge “addition” at Kootenai Memorial Hospital actually practically is an entire new hospital.

Administrator Joe Morris said about two-thirds of the components of the old facility have moved into the new one.

The square footage has increased from 80,000 to 234,000. The fantastic new facility obviously has much more room.

The new KMH is clean and gleaming and designed for complete convenience and service for the patient and staff. It is built for human and utility efficiency.


The North Idaho Cancer Center (now Kootenai Health's Cancer Services) and the Interlake Medical Office Building complex open. It serves as the leader for cancer treatment throughout the region and continues to grow.


The Walden House, built by the Kootenai Health Foundation, is named in honor of the late A.K. (Ace) and Ellen Walden, longtime supporters of the Foundation and the community.


North Idaho MRI (now Kootenai Health's MRI Services) opens.


The North Idaho Imaging Center (now Kootenai Outpatient Imaging) opens.


The KMC CARE-a-VAN Patient Transport program (now Kootenai Health's Transportation Services) begins offering free transportation from patients’ homes to area doctors’ offices in Coeur d’Alene, Post Falls and Hayden.


Post Falls Health Park opens in March. This 34,000-square-foot medical office complex houses a host of physician specialties, clinics, laboratory and diagnostic imaging services, and dialysis.


Kootenai acquires Pinecrest Hospital (now Kootenai Health's Behavioral Health) to consolidate psychiatric and chemical dependency adult and youth services. Today, it offers adult inpatient and outpatient care, chemical dependency treatment and both residential and acute programs for youth.


Kootenai Outpatient Surgery opens. It is a state-of-the-art outpatient ambulatory surgery center, a joint venture of Kootenai and area physicians.


The McGrane Center for Rehabilitation and Therapeutic Care opens and is the heart of Kootenai Health's Outpatient Rehabilitation Services, including the Terrill Aquatic Center and the Henry Heyn Adult Day Center.


The North Idaho Heart Center (now Kootenai Health's Heart Center) opens to provide comprehensive diagnostic services for patients, expanding Kootenai's cardiac services. Since that time, over 1,000 open-heart procedures have been performed at the Heart Center.


Kootenai Health's 395-stall employee parking garage opens.


Kootenai and Bonner General Hospital collaborate to provide expanded oncology services to cancer patients living in Bonner and Boundary counties with Cancer Services at Bonner General.

Cancer Services expands with a new location at the Post Falls Health Park, Post Falls Cancer Services.

For the first time, Kootenai Health is granted Magnet® status by the American Nurses Credentialing Center. This designation is the gold standard in nursing excellence. Kootenai is the first hospital in the Inland Northwest to receive this designation and the second in Idaho.


The name Kootenai Health is introduced to encompass all the organization's service lines. Along with new names and logos, Kootenai launches an updated website.

Additionally, Kootenai Health's Rehabilitation Services constructs a new playground near the McGrane Center on the Kootenai Health campus.

The playground is built with funds raised and contributed by Kootenai Health employees, physicians, Kootenai Health's Auxiliary and matching funds from the Children's Miracle Network.

Kootenai therapists use the equipment to help children with disabilities exercise and improving motor skills.


Post Falls Cancer Services opens its doors with a groundbreaking ceremony the same year that Kootenai obtains a da Vinci surgical robot.


Kootenai Health's Cancer Services opens in Post Falls, as does the Business Services Building. Kootenai Health acquires the North Idaho Medical Care Centers and adds Kootenai Family Care to its growing list of service lines.

Modern Healthcare magazine names Kootenai Health as one of the nation's Best Places to Work in Healthcare. The Kootenai Heart Center is recognized as a Blue Distinction Center for Cardiac Care.

Kootenai Health hosts its first annual Triathlon for Kids.


Kootenai Health becomes tobacco-free on November 18 and Big Blue Coffee Company opens a location on its campus that same year.

Kootenai Health is named one of the Best Places to Work in Healthcare by Modern Healthcare magazine for the second year in a row.

Long-time Kootenai Health CEO Joe Morris announces plans to retire in May 2011. Morris began his career with what was then Kootenai Memorial Hospital in 1974, accepting the position of CEO in July of 1981. Jon Ness, formerly Chief Operating Officer at Billings Clinic in Billings Montana, is announced as having accepted the position of CEO at Kootenai Health.

Kootenai Health partners with North Idaho Family Physicians to launch Kootenai Urgent Care.


Kootenai Health achieves the coveted Magnet® status for a second time, a recognition held by less than 3% of hospitals nationwide.


Heart Clinics Northwest joins Kootenai Health, the latest addition to the ever-growing services available to Kootenai's patients.

Kootenai Health continues to partner with a variety of healthcare providers to form joint ventures dedicated to delivering advanced diagnostic imaging, radiation therapy, laboratory services, outpatient surgery and better access to physicians. By creating these collaborative relationships, Kootenai is determined to have a future as successful as its past.