Great Falls nurse offers services, Northern Montana Hospital restructures clinics
North-central Montana retirees who were afraid they might lose the care they had received for their feet may not need to worry.
A Great Falls nurse says she has picked up some of the traveling foot care clinics that were canceled, and Northern Montana Hospital now saying its clinics are being restructured.
Rachelle Harp, a registered nurse and owner of Montana Foot Care Nurse, said she was coming to the Hi-Line today and Friday to provide foot care clinics in Harlem and has another scheduled in Chester Aug. 20.
Harp said she is talking to people at other locations where Northern used to provide foot care clinics to see if they would like her to take over the service and has trial dates scheduled for some clinics including Havre’s Eagles Manor Retirement Home.
“When I saw they need a little help out there, I thought I could help them,” Harp said.
Christen Obresley of Northern Montana Hospital said Wednesday that the hospital is reconfiguring the clinics and will be sending letters out this week to senior citizens who had used them.
Northern Montana Hospital began offering the foot clinics nearly 17 years ago, providing care for senior citizens who had difficulty with or were unable to take care of their feet. The program soon expanded with traveling clinics, in which nurses went to locations so the retirees did not have to travel to the hospital.
Last month, citing uncertainty about what would happen with the full implementation next year of the Affordable Care Act — Obamacare — the hospital canceled its traveling clinics. People who had received care at those 12 locations now would have to attend the clinics at the hospital, a letter from Northern’s Senior Connections said.
People who had used the clinics said many would not be able to travel to the hospital, especially during the winter months. The cancellation effectively ended the service for some, they said.
Northern Montana Health Care President and CEO Dave Henry said at the end of July — a letter to users of the clinics said the traveling clinics would be canceled effective July 31 — that losses in revenue in senior services, and failure of people to attend their appointments at the clinics, were part of the reason for canceling them.
He said with the interest that people had shown since the hospital’s letter went out, that his decision could be reconsidered.
Harp, who received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Montana State University in Bozeman in 2008, started her business in January. She said she studied under a podiatrist in Washington to receive her foot care certification.
In-home foot care is a rapidly growing field, Harp said.
She said she has been primarily providing care for people in their homes in Great Falls and in Choteau and Augusta. Harp said she is continuing to talk to the locations where Northern Montana Hospital had held clinics in addition to Chester and Harlem, where she will pick up the service, and places like the Eagles Manor where she is holding a trial foot care clinic.
If the business grows enough, Harp said, she may have to add an aide or hire another nurse to help her with the clinics.
“My goal is to expand,” Harp said.
She said people who would like more information about her service can call her at 406-781-7748 or visit her Facebook site or her website Mtfootnurse.com.