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Bitterroot could see Women's Wellness Clinic in Hamilton

By Kevin Maki, KECI Reporter, kmaki@keci.com
Published On: Feb 12 2014 07:03:23 PM MST
Updated On: Feb 12 2014 11:59:32 PM MST

Volunteers would staff the clinic that would provide primary health care for women and their partners.

HAMILTON, Mont. -

The Bitterroot could likely see a new women's health clinic open its doors this spring. Volunteers would staff the Women's Wellness Clinic. It would provide primary health care for women and their partners.

The move came after public health's Family Planning clinic closed in September. County commissioners refused Title X money to fund it.

The Wellness Clinic could help more than 450 clients who lost those services when it closed.

Clinic organizer Heather Liebe showed NBC Montana the clinic's proposed home.

Patients could get cancer screenings, wellness checks, breast exams, pregnancy tests and counseling, contraceptives and STD screening.

"No one's going to be turned away for lack of ability to pay," said Liebe.

The clinic would be open one day a week, probably on Friday, and be staffed by a volunteer doctor, physician's assistant, nurse practitioner,plus RN's, and other medical volunteers.

There might be an OBGYN or a family medicine doctor on shift.

"We will offer some services outside of family planning basic services," said Liebe, "but that depends whose on staff that day."

Sapphire Community Health is a non profit that is working with clinic organizers to provide primary health care access for low income women.

When 450-plus patients lost family planning services in September, protesters said poor women, especially lost basic, local health care.

To get to those same services some women have had to drive as far as Missoula.

"We are trying to fill the gap and help those folks get services until there are more services available," said Sapphire board member Dixie Stark.

Rebecca Fortney is a student at Bitterroot College of the University of Montana in Hamilton. She works at the hospital too. Fortney plans to use the clinic.

"The community as a whole will be a lot healthier, education rates will go up," said the 23-year-old."It's preventive medicine."

Organizers are on a fundraising campaign to pay for the clinic for a year.