The local community health center is celebrating work on a new facility Friday, with officials including a U.S. senator invited to a groundbreaking ceremony for the new Bullhook Clinic.
Bullhook Community Health Center purchased property across 4th Street from Havre City Hall, and is building a new clinic to consolidate its services.
Cindy Smith, CEO of Bullhook, said U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont ., who helped Bullhook get the funding for the project approved, along with representatives from the architecture firm CTA Architects and Engineers and lead contractor, Guy Tobacco Construction Corp ., will attend the ceremony, scheduled to start on site at 10 a.m. Friday.
She said the invitation also includes the local subcontractors and officials, including the mayor, Hill County commissioners, representatives of Bear Paw Development Corp. and the health center board and staff.
The clinic started as part of the Hill County Health Department in 2005. After federal funding for that grant was cut, it applied for grants, which allowed the facility to continue to reform as a private nonprofit and move to a new location.
Now, the medical services and counseling are provided at a location east of Northern Montana Hospital leased from Northern Montana Health Care, while dental services are provided in a space leased in the Atrium Mall.
Smith has said the intent is to bring all services together to both provide a single, central location where people can receive all of the care Bullhook offers, and to provide a patient-centered medical home model.
The intent of that model includes providing coordinated care in all aspects of the patient’s health, dealing with the patient as a “whole person” rather than having separate health care providers making unrelated diagnoses and providing unrelated treatments.
The original federal grant application was to access funds that could be used to remodel historic Donaldson Hall on the Montana State University-Northern campus to use as the location of the health center.
Donaldson has fallen into disuse as the university system tries to find a way to fund repairs on the building. University offices were moved out in 2008 due to problems with electrical, plumbing and heating systems. Estimates of the cost to restore the building and open it as a dormitory at that time ran as high as $8 million.
Health Resources and Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services approved a $4,957,921 grant to lease and turn the building into a community health center, but then the university system — with a new commissioner of higher education and chancellor at Northern starting after the grant application was submitted — ending that idea, saying that use of the building did not meet the plans and mission of the university.
Bullhook’s staff members scrambled to find a different location and applied to have the location approved for the grant, with Tester sending a letter to HRSA supporting the new location. HRSA approved the application last September.