One of the things that is different about a community health center is the way it is governed, RiverStone President and CEO John Felton said. Each one has to have a board made up of at least 51 percent of active users.
At RiverStone Health, that includes Dale Anderson, former board chairman and now chairman of the Finance Committee. The board has oversight responsibilities, including making policy decisions and recommendations.
Anderson, who was a longtime teacher and counselor in School District 2, first came in contact with Deering Clinic because many of the severely emotionally disturbed children he worked with had health problems. And that’s where he found help for them.
“I was a big fan of Deering because my kids needed it,” he said.
He also became a user of the primary care services, calling it “a good place.” Anderson retired from the district in 1999 and then worked for Montana’s Office of Public Instruction until a couple of years ago.
In 2000, then-Executive Director Lil Anderson asked Anderson to join the board. He assented, and though nervous about the learning curve, he jumped into the work.
“We’re responsible for bringing the community into the operation because we are, in large part, patients,” he said. “We can comment on quality of services and those sorts of things.”
Board members also help identify gaps in service, Anderson said. For example, after they raised the issue that many patients couldn’t visit the clinic during weekday hours, officials expanded the hours to evenings and Saturdays.
Anderson said the perception of the clinic is that it is only a place for the low income. The clinic’s sliding-fee service does make health care affordable for people who make less money, but it’s a place for anybody and everybody he said.
“We also provide good service, period,” Anderson said. “It’s smaller, and as such, it’s more personal and it’s convenient.”