In 1986, the town of Livingston was still trying to find its way and identity after Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad pulled out of its rebuild and manufacturing facility and transferred its employees to Iowa. The belief in the power of change and the shared vision that everyone deserves good health options inspired many community members to roll up their sleeves and work on a shared goal – access to affordable healthcare. Folks from medicine, social services, public health, education, chemical dependency, mental health, public officials (city and county), law enforcement, community action groups, religious leaders, and working families were all represented and led this effort.
Through the leadership and grant writing expertise of Laurie Francis (CHP’s CEO 1998-2010), community members cheered when funding from the federal Health Resources and Services Administration was received in 1997 to open Community Health Partners (CHP) clinic in Livingston. This was only the beginning; the premise of assuring access to healthcare spread to neighboring communities, and soon CHP clinics were established in Bozeman (2001), Belgrade (2008), and West Yellowstone (2010). Following the opening of the medical sites was the establishment of CHP dental clinics in Bozeman (2005) and Livingston (2009).
A foundational belief that wellness lies in the mind, body, and spirit soon emerged and became part of our mission and goal. Likewise, an understanding of putting patients in control of their healthcare evolved in all phases of our practice. The staff and board at CHP began reaching beyond clinical care to shape the health in their patients through behavioral health interventions, family literacy options, on-site prenatal services, family support resources, pharmaceutical, and dental services. CHP’s innovative programming offers an understanding of the interconnectedness of well-being and education. This led to an interdisciplinary process of designing systems with the following values woven into the core of clinic action and policy design: Respect, Efficiency, Collaboration, Equity, Education, Clear communication, Empathy, Excellence, Patient-centered, Optimism, Flexibility, and Transparency.