Bitterroot Health broke ground in Darby on Wednesday to build a $6 million facility to continue providing “quality care close to home.”
CEO John Bishop said the organization has been planning the Bitterroot Health Darby-Scripps Clinic for several years.
“It’s great to be here with great weather,” Bishop said. “Our commitment to the Bitterroot Valley is quality, accessible, personalized health care and it takes on more meaning today. The valley as a whole is to be our mission, not just Hamilton.”
He said strong communities are built on schools, grocery stores and access to good health care.
He applauded Charles Scripps for his donation.
“He lives in Darby most of the time and made a generous donation that helps make this possible,” Bishop said. “The Scripps family is closely related to health care. We are really lucky to have him and his family.”
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Scripps Health is a nonprofit healthcare system headquartered in California that treats a half-million patients annually through 2,600 affiliated physicians.
“It takes a combination of vision, ideas and courageous people to make a project like this work,” Scripps said. “I give a lot of credit to Bitterroot Health's Board and Foundation Board, John Bishop, the architects, and Bitterroot Health Darby physician Maria Hipp, to come up with a workable plan to meet the needs of our community. I'm just grateful to be a part of it. The town of Darby will benefit greatly from having this vision become a reality.”
The Bitterroot Health Darby-Scripps Clinic will be completed late this year with just over 6,000 square feet and space for primary care – with three providers, walk-in services, urgent care services, an x-ray suite, lab services and physical therapy.
“A big part of this is we’ll have a place to house our ambulance services,” Bishop said. “We’ve served the Darby community for many years, and we’re excited to have a permanent location to have that ambulance for the crew to sleep and be ready to go 24 hours a day.”
The Bitterroot Health Darby-Scripps Clinic will also save space for pharmacy services.
“We’ll save space for a future pharmacy solution,” Bishop said. “It will be a big deal for the Darby community today. It’s challenging for you to get your medication; you’ve got to leave the community to get that done. We’ll work to find a partnership to do that in the next couple of years. It will not be ready on day one, but the space will be constructed for that.”
Neenan Architecture of Fort Collins, Colorado is building the Bitterroot Health facilities in Darby and Stevensville.
“The two facilities are very similar in look, feel, design and layout,” Bishop said. “We’re excited to have them come down; they have done great work. We know they are going to bring a great asset to this community as well.”
Bishop thanked the city of Darby, the mayor, city council, fire, police, the bank and People’s Market.
“They have been great to work with and bent over backward to help us to get the infrastructure,” Bishop said. “We also thank Doreen who sold us the parcel. I also thank the Bitterroot Health project team, they have been working on this for two years. They worked hard to make sure this meets the needs of the community.”
He said the Darby clinic will include a physician, physician assistant and licensed practical nurse.
“We’re also extremely lucky to have Maria Hipp and to have her come back to her hometown,” Bishop said. “It was a stroke of great luck and brilliance to have her in the community.”
Hipp, a certified physician assistant currently working at the present Darby clinic, said the new facility will have a huge impact on the lives of community members. She said her family is a third-generation Darby family.
“When I grew up, I thought of health care as Ravalli County Public Health for when I needed vaccines and Marcus Daly Emergency Room for when I needed stitches and had a broken arm,” Hipp said. “Healthcare was not accessible and often not affordable to my family either. It is amazing to see this project come together and I know what it will mean to families similar to mine to be able to access healthcare in your hometown.”
She is thrilled to offer a local perspective to local patients.
“I know what the socio-economic status of Darby patients are and those financial burdens,” Hipp said. “Without this clinic and without this build we would not be able to offer all these services in Darby.”
She said the Bitterroot Health Darby-Scripps Clinic will also have an integrated behavioral health specialist.
“Mental health services in the state of Montana are lacking and we need help,” Hipp said. “We have a goal to offer hometown healthcare. Darby is special, we are growing, but your healthcare experience will continue to be personable. We plan to keep expanding and keep people local.”