Heritage Health Center dreams of a new building

Posted 9/7/21

At its opening in September 2015, Heritage Health Center had three employees: a chief executive officer of the start-up, a physician and a nurse.

As HHC prepares to celebrate its sixth anniversary …

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Heritage Health Center dreams of a new building

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At its opening in September 2015, Heritage Health Center had three employees: a chief executive officer of the start-up, a physician and a nurse.

As HHC prepares to celebrate its sixth anniversary this month, CEO Colette Mild, Dr. Juanita Sapp and nurse Ashley Jarrett are still in place at the community health center. And they have plenty of company — a health care team of 35 employees that now operates out of three main street buildings in Powell with satellite clinic locations in Greybull and Lovell.

HHC’s main medical clinic is at 128 N. Bent St., the center’s original site. That’s since been joined by a walk-in clinic at 126 N. Bent St., and most recently, a reconditioned location at 130 N. Bent St., Suite B to provide administrative offices, behavioral health and case management services and a large meeting room.

“We finally have a room where we can have staff meetings,” Mild laughed. “We started running out of room in the clinic right from the start. With already limited space, COVID hit us hard operationally, both patients and staff. We had to find a way to adapt so that we could see people and serve people for both routine care and those experiencing COVID-like symptoms.”

The three leased locations in the middle of the 100 block of North Bent offer much-needed space, but CEO Mild and the health center board of directors are looking to the future.

“We need a new building, and we needed it yesterday,” Mild said. “We are actively planning for a capital project fund-raising drive.”

She said HHC envisions a new building of 15,000 to 20,000 square feet, and HHC would like to partner with another nonprofit or two to provide other services to the community.

“We want to build a project, not just a medical clinic,” Mild said. “We want to serve the community at large in a much greater way.”

The health center does not have specific property identified for a new building. However, HHC received grant funding late in 2020 to engage a professional firm to work on the project, including space planning, financial planning and development, plus overall project management assistance.

Patient numbers tell the story of HHC growth, starting from zero in 2015. 

“Over the course of the last two years, we’ve seen over 3,200 unique patients and had 15,333 patient visits,” Mild said, adding, “We’re still trying to get people to understand we care for everybody, not just the under-served.”

About one-third of HHC patients have no insurance at all, about a third are on Medicare and about a third have medical insurance.

HHC offers services on a sliding fee scale based on family size and family income. At the low end of the fee schedule, office visits are billed at $20 per medical visit and $5 per behavioral health visit. 

“We’re still partnering with the hospital [Powell Valley Healthcare] whenever and however we can,” Mild said, as well as developing new partnerships — including with Park County School District 1.

HHC recently acquired telehealth equipment for video conferencing and telehealth visits and received grant funding to develop a remote patient monitoring program for hypertension.

“Medicine is changing, and we’re trying to stay ahead or keep up with the curve,” Mild said. “We’re taking advantage of technology whenever we can and refocusing our strategies to successfully integrate medical and behavioral health services.”

Dr. Sarah Sowerwine is the chief medical officer and head of a medical provider staff that includes two MDs, two physician assistants and two nurse practitioners.

Dr. Sapp is the other HHC physician, having stepped down from her previous CMO role. The physician assistants are Joseph Davidson and Heather Sanders. The nurse practitioners are Amanda Buffkin and Julie Agee. 

Providers rotate through the HHC Greybull outreach clinic at 444 Greybull Ave., which is open Monday through Thursday. A new Lovell outreach clinic should be opening this month. 

Tom Bibbey is president of the eight-member HHC operating board. Other officers are Scott Kolpitcke, vice president, and Cindy Ibarra, secretary. Directors include Wes Metzler, Beth Hronek, Blake Thompson, Brooke Fink and Sharon Earhart.

    

Powell school district and HHC partner on mental health services

Park County School District 1 and Heritage Health Center of Powell are teaming to provide mental and behavioral health services in a school-based setting.

The Powell district is one of three school districts in the state to be awarded a five-year grant under Wyoming Project AWARE (Advancing Wellness and Resiliency in Education). Under the grant, HHC will provide a school-based licensed professional counselor to make available therapy and behavioral services for students during school hours.

The new program to provide mental health counseling and support is based on a foundational belief, said Jay Curtis, superintendent of schools for Park County School District  1.

“We know that if our students are mentally healthy, they can better focus on learning,” he said.

The Heritage Student Health Center program provides mental health services for Park County School District 1 students in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade and their families. Counseling services are provided by a licensed counselor for a variety of issues, such as depression, anxiety, ADHD, substance abuse, family adjustments or behavioral concerns.

“Our Student Health Center program improves access to care by eliminating barriers to treatment such as scheduling conflicts and transportation limitations,” said Heritage Health Center CEO Colette Mild.

A parent or guardian must be present at the first appointment to access Heritage Student Health Center services and sign required consent forms.  Follow-up appointments do not require a parent or guardian to be present.

School counselors are an important part of the referral process and can identify students who may benefit from the services of the Heritage Student Health Center. Behavioral health appointments are coordinated through the school counselor.

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