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BELGRADE, Mont -- Belgrade School District 44 (BSD44) and Community Health Partners (CHP) announced a joint venture beginning September 16, 2020, that will be the first of its kind in Gallatin County. In what has been nearly two years of planning with the School Board and District staff, CHP is opening the Panther Clinic inside the Belgrade Middle School, 410 Triple Crown Lane, Belgrade.
This school-based health center is based on a national model that locates primary care providers inside schools to make it easier to access healthcare in a familiar and safe environment. It will be open to all Belgrade School District students – not just middle schoolers – as well as siblings, parents and BSD44 faculty and staff. CHP’s staff will work alongside BSD44 teachers and administrators to also deliver health and safety education as well as be another access point for parents needing healthcare resources.
“We are tremendously excited by this partnership to deliver new services to our District families and staff,” said Godfrey Saunders, BSD44 superintendent. “CHP has a solid reputation of bringing innovative solutions to expanding healthcare access and we are proud that the Belgrade community gets to benefit from this new model in our area.”
Lander Cooney, CHP’s CEO, explained that in a typical day at the Panther Clinic, a teacher could get his blood pressure work-up and prescriptions written there, a mother could get her Pap smear and well-woman care, and a child could receive a school or sports physical, wound/orthopedic care, diabetes management, or lab work completed. The clinic functions like a regular medical provider office that just happens to be located inside a middle school.
“School-based health centers are not a new concept, but there are only a few in Montana,” Cooney said. “And while CHP already has a clinic on Main Street in Belgrade, adding one more way for busy families and the hard-working school district staff to take care of their healthcare needs is a win-win. We thank the Belgrade School Board, administration and Middle School staff for this new partnership.”
The Panther Clinic will be open Mondays, 8:00 am to 5:00 pm and Wednesdays and Fridays from 7:30 am to 4:30 pm, and will be staffed by a physician’s assistant (PA) and a medical assistant. The clinic space is located close to the school nurse’s office and features two exam rooms, a small lab, bathroom and check-in area. CHP’s services at the school-based health center and its other locations are available to everyone regardless of ability pay. CHP accepts all insurance coverages and a sliding fee discount is available to individuals and families who qualify based on family size and income. And while CHP offers both behavioral health and dental services in its other locations, currently these will be unavailable at the Panther Clinic, but referrals are available. The Belgrade School District and CHP will continue to evaluate services provided and adapt as needed.