SHERIDAN According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 8.5% of Sheridan County’s population is at the federal poverty level.

When you’re at the poverty level, you’re forced to make difficult decisions, and sometimes health care especially holistic health care that meets physical, mental and dental needs   is out of reach, according to David Mark, CEO of the One Health community health centers based in Hardin, Montana.

That’s where organizations like One Health come into play, Mark said.

“Community health centers are safety net providers caring for those who are not being cared for,” Mark said. “Our goal is to offer exceptional care that is affordable to all. Nobody should feel like they will walk through our doors and not get what they need.”

While the community health center concept dates back to President Lyndon B. Johnson’s War on Poverty in the 1960s, the city of Sheridan has never had one, Mark said. That will change next year with the opening of One Health’s newest clinic at 201 E. Fifth St. The clinic is targeting a spring 2022 opening, Mark said.

One Health will provide primary health care such as family medicine and outpatient health care services; behavioral health care such as mental health and substance abuse treatments; and dental care. While services will be offered to the entire community, there will be a special focus on serving those within 200% of the federal poverty level, Mark said. The clinic’s fees will be offered on a sliding scale with discounted fees being offered to qualifying patients based on income and family size.

Like all community health centers, One Health is a private nonprofit organization funded federally by the Health Resources and Services Administration.

In its early stages, the Sheridan clinic will employ a variety of health care professionals including a physician, a nurse practitioner, nurses, a dentist and a dental hygienist. The behavioral health care will be offered through a combination of in-person and virtual services, Mark said. One Health will offer referrals to other community services and provide discounted pharmaceuticals.

The Sheridan clinic will be the latest addition to the One Health organization, which already provides services in Montana communities including Hardin, Lewistown, Miles City, Ashland, Chinook, Harlem and Glendive. They also offer school-based health care at Wyola School, Crow Agency School and Hardin Public Schools.

Mark said moving into Sheridan not only provided opportunities to serve the local community, but also to provide expanded care for some of their existing clientele in Montana.

“We have a lot of patients across the border in Big Horn County, and many of those people use services in Sheridan already,” Mark said. “We also have our school-based system in Wyola and expanding into Sheridan gives us an opportunity to support that work. In addition to the overall need for this care in Sheridan, those were compelling reasons for our expansion.”

The organization is currently in the process of renovating the historic Sheridan train depot into its new clinic, according to One Health Vice President of Development Kent Doughty.

“Access to services and care is extremely important and so is economic development through the revitalization of existing buildings in our communities,” Doughty said. “Repurposing existing buildings and spaces is the right thing to do…Renovating historic structures especially in the downtown business district is important to us as it creates excitement, belonging and restores historic legacy.

Mark said that, as the organization prepares for its opening next year, the needs of the community will remain its top priority.

“We have a mantra in the community health center world,” Mark said. “‘If you’ve seen one, you’ve seen only one.’ Each of our centers are unique and created to fill a unique niche in the community. In Sheridan, we’ll do the same thing we’ve done in all our communities: start small and then grow and expand to meet the particular needs of the community.”

 

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