Sapphire Community Health Board Member Awarded Statewide Award

April 20, 2018
Media Contact: Janet Woodburn
406-541- 0475 (o)
406-830- 5656 (c)

Jim Morton’s Dedicated Service to Sapphire Community Health Recognized

(Helena, MT) – On April 18th, the Montana Primary Care Association awarded Jim Morton, longtime board member of Sapphire Community Health, its Dr. Alan Strange Legacy Award. The Dr. Alan Strange Legacy Award honors a leaders or emerging leader who has been committed to improving access to care in the community health field in Montana.

In March, the Sapphire Community Health Board of Directors proudly nominated Jim Morton for the Dr. Alan Strange Legacy Award. Jim is the Secretary/Treasurer of the Sapphire Community Health Board of Directors. He was instrumental in gaining a New Access Points grant from U.S. Health and Human Services’ Health Resources Services Administration (HRSA) to start an FQHC in Ravalli County.

Sapphire Community Health was formed in 1999 by a group of Ravalli County citizens concerned about the lack of access to affordable health care in their community. The board submitted grant applications for a community health center in Hamilton to HRSA four times in four years, unsuccessfully. After the fourth attempt, the board largely disbanded, but retained the corporation.

In the subsequent years, largely due to Jim Morton’s energy and passion, Sapphire Community Health secured start-up funding from the Human Resource Council and the State of Montana that resulted in a successful application to HRSA in the spring of 2015. Since then, Sapphire Community Health has provided primary care health services to 1000’s of patients whose options for accessing affordable, quality health care was limited. As Sapphire continues to grow, it is gradually expanding services to include an opioid treatment program and hopes to provide dental services in the future.

It is the Board’s belief that Jim Morton, who grew up in poverty on the Crow Reservation, single-handedly saved the Sapphire Community Health corporation that has since grown and become a vital provider of primary and behavioral health care in Ravalli County. Jim Morton revitalized the corporation, brought in new members, and truly gave the board a sense of hope and optimism. The Board of Directors were honored to nominate Jim for the Dr. Alan Strange Legacy Award.


Dr. Alan Strange, PhD, was a founding member of the national movement that brought Community Health Centers to Montana. Dr. Strange was a significant contributor to national and state efforts to build a health care system to serve rural areas and get people, especially those most vulnerable, care.

The Montana Primary Care Association is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving access to high-quality, community-based, affordable primary health care in Montana. MPCA is the association of Montana’s 16 community health centers providing comprehensive primary care in over 60 locations across the state. MPCA works to support and increase Montanans’ access to excellent, patient-centered health care.

For more information, please contact Janet Woodburn