By Michael Howell of the Bitterroot Star | December 8, 2015
Sapphire Community Health, a not-for-profit primary health care facility that turns no one away for lack of money and charges on a sliding scale fee based on the individual’s or family’s ability to pay, has re-opened for business after being closed in 2012 due to lack of funding. The clinic’s top notch facility, located at 303 North 3rd Street in Hamilton, opened up for business again on October 21 after receiving a grant that would help cover operational expenses.
“It was enough to get going and get our feet on the ground,” said Chief Executive Officer Janet Woodburn. And apparently they hit the ground running, tending to 128 patients in the first month of operation.
The clinic accepts patients of all ages and charges on a sliding scale fee which takes into account the income and number of persons living in the household. They also accept Medicare, Medicaid, Healthy Montana Kids, and private insurance.
The clinic offers primary care for infants and adults, urgent care, preventive medicine, women’s care, breast and cervical, laboratory services, physicals, and colorectal screening. If anyone enters the clinic in need of services that are not offered there, they will be directed and referred to those services elsewhere.
Chief Nursing Officer Susan Reynolds said, “The response from the community has been phenomenal.” She said there was a real need in the community for medical care by people who may not be seeking help because they can’t afford it. She said many low income people don’t get any preventative care because they can’t afford it and then end up going to the Emergency Room at the hospital when they can no longer get by.
Woodburn said that the clinic has just added a staff person who can explain the enrollment procedure in the state sponsored health care plans and the Medicaid expansion. There is no charge for this service and no requirement that the person actually engage in any particular program after receiving guidance.
Reynolds said that she gets great satisfaction from helping people really in need when they are faced with the choice of either getting food or medicine with what money they have. She said that at least four of the clinic’s employees came to work there from other jobs because they were so committed to the clinic’s mission of serving the underprivileged.
The clinic is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., but is closed for lunch from 12 to 1 p.m. An open house is planned for Friday, January 8, 2016 from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. A light lunch will be provided. The clinic’s phone number is 406-541-0032 and its website is www.sapphirechc.org.