Reaching out to help the community

2013-08-13T15:46:00Z 2013-08-13T19:57:07Z Reaching out to help the communityBy Nancy Taylor For The Gazette The Billings Gazette
August 13, 2013 3:46 pm  • 

Across the nation, more than 1,200 community health centers form a vital piece of the health care safety net. Community health centers treat patients from all walks of life. Their mission is to treat everyone in the community, regardless of their ability to pay.

Here in Billings, RiverStone Health Clinic opened in 1983 and now serves more than 21,000 patients each year, providing access to primary and preventative care at the main clinic on South 27th Street and at satellite clinics in Bridger, Joliet and Worden.

As part of its mission, the clinic also reaches out to underserved members of the community who may be reluctant to seek medical help or unable to make an appointment. Through Healthcare for the Homeless, RiverStone Health offers walk-in clinics at the Montana Rescue Mission and its Women and Family Shelter, at the Hub, and at the main Clinic. The program provides temporary medical services for homeless persons, including routine preventive care, emergency dental care and other services.

Tomorrow, Healthcare for the Homeless will serve a free breakfast at a Billings park to encourage more of the city’s homeless population to utilize the services we offer.

Working together

Our health center works closely with many community groups to provide and enhance services to patients of all ages.

Those services include prenatal and obstetrical care, well-child visits, urgent care for children and adults, pediatric and adolescent care, well-woman visits, adult and geriatric care, chronic disease management, cancer screening and more.

Like other community health centers, RiverStone Health Clinic works to provide access to high quality primary care, which has been demonstrated to prevent more costly visits to the emergency department and hospitalizations. This spring, the RiverStone Health Clinics in Billings, Bridger, Joliet and Worden earned recognition as a Patient Centered Medical Home, an acknowledgement that everyone who comes to our clinic gets the same high-quality medical care.

The recognition came from the National Committee on Quality Assurance (NCQA), and only one other primary-care practice in Montana has achieved this recognition under the current (2011) NCQA standards.

Under the patient-centered model of care, services are tailored to each individual’s needs and a team approach helps the patient achieve his or her health goals.

The recognition is a major milestone on the journey toward creating a better and more efficient health care system for our community.

Broad spectrum

The people who come to the campus of RiverStone Health represent a broad spectrum of our community and a wide variety of needs.

Some of the services are separate from the clinic but housed in the clinic building or in the adjacent four-story Lil Anderson Center. Travelers make use of the Immunization Clinic to get the shots they need to travel abroad. Parents come for vaccinations their children need before starting kindergarten. New mothers and mothers-to-be can get help buying healthy foods through WIC, the supplemental federal nutrition program for women and their children. At the pharmacy, people can get prescriptions filled, or get advice about possible drug interactions.

Some clients benefit from the Medication Assistance Program, which works through pharmaceutical companies to provide free or reduced-cost prescription medication to low-income, uninsured individuals.

The Community Health Access Partnership, CHAP, also helps the uninsured and under-insured get health care services by matching their needs with community resources.

RiverStone Health’s clients are involved in disease prevention programs, screenings for colorectal, breast and cervical cancer, behavioral health care, dental care and other services that support good health outcomes.

RiverStone Health Clinic accepts Medicare, Medicaid, most private insurance plans and has a sliding fee scale available for those who are not able to pay.

This week, we celebrate National Community Health Center Week with a “Know Your Numbers” campaign focusing on the importance of making lifestyle changes based on your weight, blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol numbers. We invite you to join in the celebration.

Nancy Taylor is vice president of Clinical Operations with the Montana Family Medicine Residency at RiverStone Health. She can be reached 247-3295 or at

Copyright 2014 The Billings Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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