Havre Daily News
There have been many success stories at the Bullhook Clinic.
In one, a woman who was missing all of her teeth came to the facility. She could not afford dental care and shied away from people because of her problem. The clinic gave her a voucher to be seen by a dentist in Great Falls and set up her transportation to the appointment. She got dentures, which helped give her more confidence and aided her in re-entering the work force.
“That was a great success story,” Cindy Smith, executive director of Bullhook Clinic and director of nursing for the Hill County Health Department.
Smith said she has seen many people cry when they get a voucher for dental work or a free bottle of their prescription medication.
Smith told the story to a group of about 20 community members, health care workers and Bullhook Clinic board members, and about a dozen of the clinic's employees at a community meeting to discuss the future of the facility. The meeting was facilitated by Oliver Delk, a Healthy Communities Access Planning grant technical assistant from Atlanta.
“If you can save one person - that's a win,” Delk said to the crowd. “You have a finite amount of money and an infinite amount of opportunity.”
Bullhook Clinic has lost its second year of funding from a $1.7 million Healthy Communities Access Planning grant as a result of an appropriations act adopted by Congress in December. The clinic has received $980,000 for its first year. The clinic began receiving funding from the Health Resources and Services Administration grant in September and opened its doors on Dec. 19.
Smith said the clinic workers and its board will have to make “some hard decisions” in the next few months.
Delk said he is impressed by the clinic's accomplishments.
“You are having to do in one year what it took us five years to do with our clinic in Atlanta,” he said.
The clinic, which is located in the Hill County Courthouse Annex building on Fourth Avenue, sees all categories of patients - those with Medicare, with Medicaid, and with and without insurance.
“I hope the community will rise up and say ‘We need this and won't let you take it way,'” Delk said.
In a survey being conducted by the clinic, medical services and pharmacy assistance were listed as the most important services the clinic provides. Smith said she will use information gathered by the survey and Tuesday's meeting to determine the most important aspects of the clinic. If a component can generate funds, she said, that also will impact her decisions.
The clinic is still accepting survey responses. Those interested in participating in the survey can call the clinic at 265-5481 ext. 266.
Possible solutions to the funding woes were discussed at the meeting.
Hill County superintendent of schools Shirley Isbell asked if local businesses who cannot afford to supply their employees with insurance could help fund the clinic to allow their workers to receive medical treatment.
Delk said he knows of communities that have approached businesses and created a “three-share,” where the cost of health care is split among the business, employees and the government.
The clinic's employees have been exploring various funding options including applying to grants. Bullhook Clinic is applying for a six-month extension on the original grant, which would not bring any more funding but would allow the clinic's workers to restructure the use of the dollars they do have.
Clinic spokeswoman Pam Burke said the clinic has received verbal support from the state's congressional delegation but no one has an answer of the best strategy. Burke said she encourages the community to also write letters of support for the clinic to local and state government officials.
Today, the grant management team will meet to explore its options and work on a budget plan.