HELENA – St. Peter’s Health is taking a new step to respond to widespread flu activity in the Helena area – opening its first “flu clinic.”

“We wanted to create one more option for patients,” said Brian Lee, St. Peter’s Health’s vice president of operations.

Starting Monday, the medical group will operate the clinic to provide care specifically for people with flu-like symptoms, such as fever, dry cough, runny or stuffy nose and sore throat. It will remain open through the end of the flu season.

Leaders said the new service would minimize wait times for those with flu-like symptoms. They say it’s important to determine as quickly as possible whether someone has the flu or a different illness with similar symptoms. That can help them find the proper treatment – and possibly minimize the duration and severity of the illness.

Story continues below

The clinic will be staffed from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday at St. Peter’s Broadway Clinic. Patients will be seen by appointment only. They can schedule an appointment by calling (406) 457-4180.

“We always encourage patients to seek care from their primary care,” said Lee. “But if that’s not an option, and if urgent care and emergency services are very busy, and they want another option to call and schedule an appointment, there’s another avenue for them to take.”

Lee said a number of St. Peter’s providers will set part of their days aside to staff the clinic. He expects most patients will be able to set up appointments for the same day.

The St. Peter’s lab identified 240 flu cases between Dec. 27 and Jan. 29. 54 of those were in children 12 years old or younger.