Bridge Medical Center celebrates 20 years of care

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  • Healthcare providers at Bridge Medical Center include Pat Cole, Steve Gordon, Sara Bonds, Julie Barter and Lynn Troy. Bridge is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. (Heidi Desch/Whitefish Pilot)

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    The Bridge Medical Center is located on U.S. Highway 93 just south of Whitefish. (Heidi Desch/Whitefish Pilot)

  • Healthcare providers at Bridge Medical Center include Pat Cole, Steve Gordon, Sara Bonds, Julie Barter and Lynn Troy. Bridge is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. (Heidi Desch/Whitefish Pilot)

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    The Bridge Medical Center is located on U.S. Highway 93 just south of Whitefish. (Heidi Desch/Whitefish Pilot)

The healthcare professionals at Bridge Medical Center take a holistic approach to treating their patients.

On the first visit they’ll spend more than an hour talking with patients learning about their physical and mental wellbeing, asking about their history to diagnose any issues and then crafting a detailed treatment plan.

“Making a connection is medicine of its own,” explains Steven Gordon.

“Patients are happier when they’re engaged in the process,” adds Patricia Cole.

“There is no substitute for human interaction,” says Julie Barter.

This is how the conversation happen during a weekly meeting of a handful of medical professionals that are part of the Bridge. They gather and discuss patients, bringing fresh perspectives to a patient’s case.

“I love it,” Cole said. “There are providers with alternative perspectives and different skills to help complicated patients. That make us better doctors.”

“When we collaborate a whole new world opens up,” Gordon said.

Bridge Medical Center uses both conventional and alternative therapies for acute and chronic health conditions. It offers medical, naturopathic, acupuncture, chiropractic, counseling, and nursing health specialists who work together to provide comprehensive health care and clinical services.

Located just south of the U.S. Highway 93 and Montana 40 intersection, this year the Bridge is celebrating its 20th anniversary.

Founded by Gordon, he envisioned a clinic like Bridge even while still in medical school he says with the idea of going back to the days of when family practice medicine meant spending more time with patients and more time working with them.

“This center is about integrating something that is bigger than all of us — for healing and life outcomes,” Gordon said. “We want to give the patient the opportunity to take responsibility for their own life and health.”

Gordon says we’re all aging, but it’s about assisting patients to age gracefully and improving outcomes to make “the best of the day to day.”

A naturopathic physician, Gordon focuses on orthopedic pain elimination, hormonal therapy and diabetes management.

Cole focuses on family practice medicine and women’s health, and says after years spent in academic family medicine, the atmosphere at Bridge is rewarding because she gets to spend more time with patients.

“As a physician there is an element of counseling to help people learn simple ways to live their lives better and learn to do it for themselves,” she said.

Barter focuses on patients who have chronic medical illnesses, often those exposed to mold toxins or those with lyme disease. A self described “medical detective,” Barter works with patients taking a detailed look at their medical history and environment to find answers for why they are sick.

“I take on the mystery cases,” she said. “The patients who have been to dozens of doctors and specialists. I look at them and ask them questions they haven’t been asked before about what they eat and drink, and where they live and have traveled. I get into the nitty-grity of the details and run the tests.”

Then she’ll create a treatment plan for patients or refer them to other medical professionals as necessary, noting that it’s “rewarding to watch people recover.”

All the medical professionals at Bridge aim to look for natural remedies in diet, supplements or lifestyle changes to help patients before turning to synthetic medicines.

“We want to give the body the chance to fix themselves,” Gordon said. “If we take responsibility for these things, the problems will often resolve themselves with more time.”

Naturopathic physician Lynn Troy joined Bridge last fall after most recently working at the Northwest Oncology and Hematology at Kalispell Regional Medical Center. She focuses on working with cancer patients, but also practices family medicine.

Troy began working with those fighting cancer after having two friends diagnosed with cancer at the same time. She saw a need to provide support for cancer patients through dietary analysis, nutrients and supplements.

“I look to enhance their treatment by providing support such as through good nutrition to ensure they don’t become malnourished,” she said. “I want to make sure that the patients are healthy enough to complete their treatment.”

Sara Bonds provides massage, bodywork and craniosacral therapy, a hands-on approach that releases tensions deep in the body to relieve pain and dysfunction and improve whole-body health and performance, at Bridge.

“I find ways to figure out things that people don’t tell you about,” she said. “To trace pain back to an area where it happened and look at the whole issues that come with that, and then work together to solve the problems people are having.”

Medical professionals at Bridge all have areas of focus that are their specialty, and they’ll refer patients elsewhere if necessary, but ultimately the goal is to best assist those they treat.

“Patient health is the primary focus,” says Troy.

For more information on Bridge Medical Center, call 863-9300 or visit http://www.bridgemedicalcenter.com.

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