Sapphire Community Health Inc. and the Human Resource Council have traded buildings on the 300 block of N. Third Street. 

The affordable health care clinic opened for business on Monday with twice the space, fresh paint and six spacious exam rooms.

Janet Woodburn, Sapphire Community Health CEO, said the move was essential.

“We were running out of space across the street,” Woodburn said. “We were very packed in.”

Susan Reynolds, family nurse practitioner and nursing director, has been with Sapphire Community Health Inc. since the clinic opened in October last year.

“We have outgrown our former facility, which is awesome,” Reynolds said. “There is a huge need in the valley for our kinds of services.”

The clinic has a policy that no patient is turned away. Patients are put on a sliding scale if they have no insurance. It is based on their income and their household number, the same with their lab work making it more affordable.

Reynolds said access to health care is essential.

“So many people have not seen a health care provider in years and their health has declined,” she said. “We are finding patients that are newly diagnosed with hypertension, high cholesterol and diabetes just because they haven’t seen a health care provider.”

Sapphire Community Health Inc. has been open less than a year and has over 1,100 patients. That number continues to rise daily.

“We continue to get new patients,” Reynolds said. “We have Irene Walters now on board. She the only psychiatric nurse practitioner in the valley that is prescribing. Irene is very busy and her patients are comfortable. She brought her nurse Chris Crites.”

Reynolds said the larger space in the new locations provides room to expand the services.

“Our goal is to try to get dental in next year,” she said. “People need to have healthcare. They need to be take care of.”

Kate Duggan, Certified Application Counselor (CAC), gets people set up with insurance coverage.

“The move is exciting and improves patient services,” she said. “The inside has a very open updated feel and we have a lot of positive response from our patients. We’ll be offering free flu shots Sept. 26 through Oct. 7 thanks to a partnership with Kmart Pharmacy who will be on site to give shots in our center. Shots are available to everyone.”

The Human Resource Council has moved across the street with many of the services going to independent locations. Their unpacking is still in progress.

The Montana Secretary of State confirmed Thursday that Rick Breckenridge was Libertarian Party’s replacement for U.S. House candidate, Mike Fellows, who died Monday in a car crash.

The decision followed confusion within the Libertarian Party Thursday on who could make the decision on naming Fellow’s replacement.

The Ravalli County Libertarian Central Committee said Wednesday that as the only elected central Libertarian central committee in the state, it had the right to choose the state’s candidate.

Party spokesman Andrew Forcier said Thursday morning the party was still considering others.

“There never should have been any confusion,” said Dave Merrick of Corvallis. “That’s America. Anyone can contest anything.”

Ravalli County Clerk and Recorder Regina Plettenberg said Thursday that she had received notice from the Secretary of State’s office that Breckenridge would be the candidate.

Plettenberg said county election clerks are now just waiting to learn how Breckenridge wants his name to appear on the ballot.

Breckenridge will face incumbent Rep. Ryan Zinke, a Republican, and Denise Juneau, a Democrat, in the general election contest for Montana’s only U.S. House seat.

Sapphire Community Health Inc. is now located at 316 N Third St. in Hamilton. They are open Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information call 406-541-0032 or visit their website online at sapphirechc.org.

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