Health Center Separates from Flathead County


Discussions in regards to the separation of the Flathead Group Well being Heart from the Flathead Metropolis-County Well being Division (FCCHD) have been gathering steam over the past 12 months, regardless of getting hampered by the novel coronavirus. 

On June 1, the well being heart will formally exit from the umbrella of county management, rebranded because the Higher Valley Well being Heart. 

The federally certified well being heart was established in 2007 to supply providers to medically underserved communities within the Flathead Valley. The middle lately grew to become an impartial, nonprofit well being heart, however continued to be nested throughout the Flathead County governing construction as a part of the FCCHD. 

“This has been a very long time coming,” Flathead County Well being Officer Joe Russell advised the county commissioners at their Could 25 assembly, the place the ultimate paperwork was signed. “I’ve a variety of confidence in Mary Sterhan — she comes with sufficient medical clout on this group that she’ll do fantastic, and we’ll be there in case.”

Higher Valley Well being Heart (GVHC) CEO Mary Sterhan stated progress was shifting ahead rapidly till the pandemic hit. 

“Simply over a 12 months in the past the county was evaluating packages and their areas of focus,” Sterhan stated. “It’s a little bit of an anomaly to have a well being clinic as a part of county authorities and I believe they had been recognizing that. It’s such a unique kind of enterprise than some other a part of county operation.”

The well being heart was based throughout Russell’s first tenure as county well being officer, and the working construction allowed the well being heart and well being division to function co-applicants for a Well being Assets and Providers Administration (HRSA) grant, which has served as funding for the well being heart since its early days. 

The county has served because the HR, IT and finance departments for the well being heart through the years, though the middle has retained its personal board of administrators and has been self-supporting in all different capacities. 

Though GVHC is shifting to full independence from the county, there isn’t going to be a lot of an operational transition, in response to Sterhan. 

“It is going to be an enchancment for us managing our personal HR — there are many points concerning human assets that no different county division offers with,” she stated. “And having our personal individual dedicated to managing our tech is essential as a result of we dwell or die by digital medical information. Administratively we’re actually gaining a variety of flexibility.”

Sterhan stated flexibility for a group well being heart is essential, particularly given a 12 months like 2020 when the pandemic compelled many workers to rapidly pivot roles and make swift adjustments to providers when crucial. 

With the separation, GVHC will now be the only real recipient of the HRSA grant. The middle at the moment operates on a largely grant funded annual price range of $6 million. 

As well as, as a part of the separation cope with the county, GVHC will proceed to lease its identical area on First Avenue West for the Kalispell clinic. The settlement signed final week is a five-year lease with one renewal choice, with a first-year price of $176,975.50. 

The well being heart gives main medical care, dental, behavioral well being and habit providers, and might assist people with insurance coverage enrollment or some other health-related wants. 

Between the first location in Kalispell, a satellite tv for pc clinic in Hungry Horse and two faculty clinics, the well being heart serves roughly 8,000 county residents. As a part of its mission, it gives a sliding-fee schedule to work with sufferers who’ve revenue challenges, each for in-house care and at native pharmacies. 

“It doesn’t matter what, we must always be capable to put collectively one thing for a affected person in want,” Sterhan stated. “We wish to meet our mission to serve the underserved and the uninsured inhabitants locally.”

For extra details about the Higher Valley Well being Heart, name (406) 607-4900. 


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