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North Valley Hospital’s emergency department: Top-notch care for the community

By Allison Linville

Ashleigh Magill, MD, had been working in the North Valley Hospital (NVH) emergency department for only two months when she was elected as the medical director for the department. However, she was more than ready to accept the role, and as a testament to her expertise and leadership ability, she was selected by a team of longtime NVH physicians.

Dr. Magill’s training took her from medical school at Indiana University to Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, where she completed her residency and taught as an academic attending physician. When she and her husband Mark Magill, MD, an orthopedic surgeon with Northwest Orthopedics & Sports Medicine, made the move to Whitefish, she fully stepped into the community and the hospital.

“We love everything about this community,” said Dr. Magill. “We immediately felt welcome, and we’ll someday raise a family here. Because we enjoy living here, we wanted to use our profession to give back and continuously work to improve health care and provide even better care for the community.”

With the support of administration and medical leadership, Dr. Magill quickly established a fast path to upgrading all systems at North Valley Hospital to work seamlessly with Kalispell Regional Medical Center (KRMC) and to operate at or above the national standards for emergency care.

“Our emergency department offers the highest level of care that you will find in a small-town critical access hospital, and it’s comparable to health care in a major metropolitan market nationwide,” explained Dr. Magill. “We had an awesome opportunity to advance our systems a few years ago, and we had a team that was willing to put in the work. Now, the community can come to this ER and get the best standard of care that you would expect anywhere.”

Another community benefit to solidifying the exceptional care at the NVH emergency department has been aligning care standards with KRMC. Dr. Magill explained, “We have worked closely with KRMC physicians to match a standard of care across the valley. Through this effort, we can ensure a seamless transition of care and the best outcome for patients at whichever facility they arrive.”

This has added benefits as the two hospitals work together as affiliates of Kalispell Regional Healthcare. “Patients that are transferred also know that the transfer will go smoothly when both facilities operate with similar standards and practices,” said Dr. Magill.

Dr. Magill details the efforts the emergency department has made to address critical concerns. In the last two years, Dr. Magill and her team in the emergency department have established standard protocols for addressing many conditions, most notably common issues such as:

  • Sepsis
  • Heart attacks and cardiac care
  • Stroke care
“With sepsis, our improvement in the third quarter of 2017 was at 100 percent in the ER, which is a huge milestone,” she said, regarding preventing the in-hospital infection. “For cardiac care, we consolidated treatment practices, and our stroke care uses the telestroke machine to leverage the resource of our regional stroke center at KRMC.”

“Through collaboration with KRH, we have teamed up to establish consistent standards of care for these conditions that are on par with national academic institutions,” said Dr. Magill. “We now see opportunities to focus on other medical issues and build on our strong emergency care in the system.”

Looking ahead, Dr. Magill is excited to collaborate more with Kalispell Regional Healthcare leaders and KRMC physicians to continue to improve health care valley-wide. She sees great potential in developing pediatric standards and working with the pediatric specialists at KRH to establish protocols that will serve families in the entire service area as North Valley Hospital partners with KRH and Montana Children’s Medical Center.

Dr. Magill knows the essential pieces in establishing high-level care are the team she leads and administrators she works with. “Our cohort adapts to changes and takes the best approach to strengthen the standard of care, so our community is confident in the quality of patient care they’ll receive.”

While she attributes the accomplishments at NVH to the emergency department team, it’s also clear that she is a skilled and energetic leader. “Everyone brings their best to the department, and we wouldn’t be able to provide this level of treatment without the support of nurses, providers, administration and our amazing community.”

First published in 406 Woman magazine, April 2018