School, health leaders planning for new community clinic in East Helena

Posted at 5:51 PM, Oct 04, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-04 20:33:35-04

HELENA – Leaders in East Helena are currently considering contractors to build a new community health clinic.

The East Helena School District, PureView Health Center and Intermountain are partnering on the project. The clinic will be built at Prickly Pear Elementary School, while PureView will provide primary care and dental services and Intermountain will provide mental and behavioral health care.

The school district will pay for the building, using some of the money raised from a 2017 bond issue that paid for Prickly Pear Elementary. East Helena Public Schools Superintendent Ron Whitmoyer expects the cost of the clinic to be just over $200,000.

Whitmoyer said school district leaders have been looking at this idea for years.

“The school board recognized that eight or nine years ago: that we needed to be at the forefront of providing opportunities for families,” he said.

While the clinic will be on the Prickly Pear campus, its services will be available to anyone.

“Families here in our community will have access, so they don’t have to drive into Helena, they don’t have to go to a clinic clear across town, they can have walk-in services,” said Whitmoyer. “They’ll have the services right here, so it’s quicker access, more convenient access.”

PureView executive director Jill Steeley said the clinic served more than 800 patients last year who came in from East Helena, Townsend and other surrounding areas.

“Through this project, we hope to further impact the city of East Helena and Jefferson and Broadwater Counties, by providing accessible, high-quality integrated care in a community that does not have access to existing mental health or primary care,” she said.

Steeley said, when the East Helena clinic opens, she expects to offer primary care two days a week and dental care one day a week. She said Intermountain will likely have mental health services available five days a week.

Whitmoyer said making mental health care more accessible fits with the school district’s long-running work on suicide prevention efforts.

“If we can start to have readily available resources to combat that horrible scourge on our communities, we’re thrilled to be able to battle suicide from the ground up,” he said.

The school district could select a contractor for the project by the end of October. Construction could begin this fall and wrap up by next spring.

“We have a huge commitment to this being a clinic that’s available to the community for a long, long time,” said Whitmoyer.