Hamilton community medical clinic holds grand opening

By Kevin Maki of NBC Montana | Jan 08 2016

HAMILTON, Mont. - Sapphire Community Health held its official grand opening Friday.

The Hamilton clinic closed several years ago for lack of funding. But a federal grant allowed staff to open its doors again.

The nonprofit Sapphire offers primary health care to anyone, regardless of their ability to pay.

The reception area of the clinic was packed for the lunch-time grand opening. They came from all walks of life. Many people in the valley have been looking forward to it.

Susan Reynolds is a nurse practitioner at Sapphire. She said when the clinic closed several years ago it left many patients without medical care at all.

"The patients were without any primary care that they could afford," she said.

The clinic offers primary care for all age groups. It accepts patients with private insurance, Medicaid, Medicare and Healthy Montana Kids. If you can't pay that's OK.

"We don't turn anyone away," said Reynolds, "because they're put on a sliding scale depending on their household number and their income."

Sapphire has nine staff members, including a registered nurse, two nurse practitioners and a medical assistant.

Kate Duggan helps patients with insurance.

"I provide counseling on understanding their insurance," said Duggan, "and enrolling in coverage."

The clinic said it has also picked up patients who used to use public health's family planning clinic. It closed when county commissioners rejected federal funding in 2013.

Since the clinic unofficially opened on Oct. 21, it has seen 260 patients. Some of those patients hadn't seen a doctor in years.

Malinda and Nelson Kaweloleimakua Carlos have health insurance. But money is tight. Both are college students. Between them they hold down three jobs. They have four kids. They said the clinic has made life a lot easier.

"I can bring all of the kids to get whatever we need to have done, quickly," said Malinda.

"From people that we know," added Nelson, "that we trust and that we've dealt with before. We want to support the community health clinic."

The couple said Sapphire offers consistent service for a big family with a variety of health care needs.

Janet Woodburn is Sapphire's chief executive officer. She said as client loads increase the clinic will add staff to meet growing needs.

Sapphire offers the following services:

  • General primary medical care for all ages
  • Acute care for minor illnesses and injuries
  • Urgent care
  • Cancer, communicable disease and cholesterol screenings
  • Well-Child services
  • Women's care-gynecological and breast care
  • Ongoing care for chronic illnesses (diabetes, hypertension)
  • Colorectal screening
  • Dermatology procedures
  • Prescription medication
  • Social service information and referrals

The clinic is located at 303 North Third Street in Hamilton. The phone number is 406-541-0032. For more information visit www.sapphirechc.org