Tester helps secure low-interest financing to build new hospital in Libby

(BOZEMAN, Mont.) – Senator Jon Tester today released the following statement after news that St. John’s Lutheran Hospital in Libby will be able to access low-interest financing to build a new hospital and expand health services. The low-interest financing is the result of an initiative supported by Tester to help hospitals like St. John’s finance new construction and expand access to care:

“Montanans deserve reliable access to high-quality care and this assistance will help more folks in Libby and Lincoln County keep their families healthy. Montana’s rural hospitals are the key to keeping communities strong and healthy, and I’ll keep supporting smart initiatives that support rural America.”

The new St. John’s hospital will have a 25-bed modern inpatient unit, two expanded operating rooms, and new diagnostic areas.

Montana’s senior U.S. Senator Max Baucus, who has fought to improve public health in Libby for years, also hailed the news.

“This is a smart investment that will make sure folks in and around Libby can get the care and services they deserve in their community,” Baucus said. “We’ll keep fighting to make sure rural communities have the tools they need to thrive.”

Rural hospitals with 25 beds or less, like St. John’s, are called Critical Access Hospitals. They are often the largest employers in rural communities. By accessing low-interest financing as a result of mortgage insurance provided by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, it is estimated that St. John’s will save more than $21 million over the life of the loan.

Tester scored a separate victory for Montana’s rural hospitals earlier this year when he helped include a provision in a funding bill to help enhance Critical Access Hospitals’ eligibility and ability to access loans to expand and renovate medical facilities. The Critical Access Hospital in Columbus previously made use of this initiative to update its facility. Tester also introduced stand-alone legislation last year extending the provision.

“This project has been in the works for over four years now and we are excited to announce that we can finally get some shovels in the ground,” said Steve Sorensen, Chairman of the Board of Trustees at St. John’s. “In addition to enhanced healthcare services, this project is the economic shot in the arm this community so desperately needs.”