Spry in Big Sky: Great Falls Residents’ Great Advantage
Great Falls helps residents stay healthy and active.
Nothing is stealthy about the way health is approached in Great Falls.
In fact, spend just a matter of minutes in the region, and you’ll find ample evidence of the community’s commitment to wellness, from the outdoor recreation opportunities to state-of-the-art medical facilities.
“We have a very active community with fantastic hospitals and doctors,” says Clark Carlson-Thompson, president of Get Fit Great Falls. “There’s just a wide variety of ways people can stay healthy here.”
Get Fit Great Falls partners with area schools, government agencies, nonprofits and local businesses to create healthy and enjoyable events and activities, like organized hikes, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing, and programs focused on nutritious eating. The coalition also partners with the Building Active Communities Initiative to promote fitness through simple actions like painting crosswalks to encourage walking downtown.
“It’s just a real community effort designed to help improve the lives of the people here,” Carlson- Thompson says.
Into the Great Outdoors
It’s not unusual that the region’s scenic beauty encourages residents to spend time outside. Folks in the area flock to River’s Edge Trail, which stretches nearly 60 miles along the Missouri River, enabling hikers, joggers and cyclists to enjoy spectacular views while exercising.
For more than four decades, the arrival of spring in Great Falls has been celebrated with the Ice Breaker Road Race, open to runners and walkers.
Short on skis or a paddleboard? You won’t be for long – all kinds of outdoor equipment can be rented from Big Horn Outdoor Specialists. Meanwhile, cyclists can take advantage of a new rental program formed by Great Falls High School’s Business Professionals of America club and SCHEELS sporting goods store.
Indoor activities will soon receive a boost with the planned construction of a $20 million aquatics and recreation center. Erica McNamee, community recreation center supervisor for the City of Great Falls, says the new facility will include a pool for lap swimming, a therapy pool, at least two basketball courts and fitness classrooms, among other things.
Care is Covered
Even though Great Falls takes a preventative approach to health, inevitably, issues will occasionally occur. But the region has this covered, too, thanks to Benefis Health System, Alluvion Health and the Great Falls Clinic.
As Great Falls’ largest private-sector employer, Benefis has invested more than $400 million in new facilities and related technology since 2004. The system includes the Sletten Cancer Institute, Heart and Vascular Institute and Orthopedic Center of Montana, and an Emergency Department that is a Level II trauma center.
“In each specialty area, our patients get personalized care that considers not just their physical health, but their emotional well-being, as well,” says Kaci Husted, Benefis vice president of communications and business development.
On the horizon is a Women’s and Children’s Center that is expected to be completed by the end of 2021.
“This new facility will change the way women and children in our community access health care,” Husted says. “It will provide an exceptional, calming environment for the families of our community to gather, receive first-class health care and experience pivotal moments all under one roof.”
If you’d like to learn more about the Great Falls area, check out the latest edition of Livability Great Falls, MT.