It Takes Two

Community Health Center merges with Bighorn Valley Health Center
Friday, October 5, 2018

Michele Foy


The Central Montana Community Health Center board shared some big news recently, as they announced a merger with Bighorn Valley Health Center. 

According to BVHC Chief Quality Officer Lara Salazar, this merger came into fruition after both organizations identified “significant health care challenges in the region, including high levels of chronic disease, lack of access to behavioral health and substance abuse treatment, provider shortages and an aging population – all in an increasingly complex and uncertain health care landscape,” she wrote in a news release.

A facility that has served the community of Lewistown for the past 10 years, CMCHC “provides access to quality, affordable, preventative and primary health care,” said CEO Michele Foy. By merging with Bighorn, Foye believes CMCHC can offer a “full range of integrated, team-based services and meet all the regulatory requirements and expectations.”

 “Maintaining current services while increasing patients’ access to additional needed services such as behavioral health, dental, vision and pharmacy is an ongoing goal of CMCHC, and we have been pursuing various options for accomplishing this over the last few years,” Foye said. “We understand the importance of staying proactive and responsive to our community’s healthcare needs, and CMCHC believes partnering with BVHC accomplishes this goal.”

CMCHC Board Member Chris Cooler agrees.

“This partnership provides opportunity to expand more services to more community members with the development of a regionalized, integrated health care delivery system throughout rural Montana,” she said. 

Not only does this partnership expand services, Cooler said, but “developing a larger healthcare organization supports additional grant funding for new, innovative services, resulting in better care for more people at an affordable price.”

BVHC CEO David Mark also expressed enthusiasm for the collaboration.

“What rural Montana most needs and loves about CMCHC and BVHC will not change,” Mark said in a news release. “Both will continue to offer all existing programs and services and, with each other’s help, will expand those services over time. The merger will create a single, regional organization that improves patient care and health outcomes through clinical integration, increases access to care and services, and positions the new organization to meet the demands of a rapidly changing health care system.”

CMCHC Medical Director Jacob Forke is also in full support.

“Patient care will continue as usual, with no change in hours or appointment scheduling,” Forke said. “Patients will be able to continue with their preferred healthcare providers.”

Foy adds the partnership “will not result in job loss to either organization and may bring a few new jobs to the Central Montana area.”

“Staff and administration are looking forward to the ability to offer the much-needed services the partnership will allow, while still maintaining the community-based aspect of the CMCHC,” Foye said. “Partner organizations will include CMCHC in Lewistown and BVHC locations in Hardin, Ashland, Colstrip and Miles City.”

The merger will become official Nov. 1, 2018, as it is currently pending final approval from regulatory agencies.



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