Alluvion Health, a not-for-profit federally licensed health center based in Great Falls, announced on June 14 that it had purchased family nurse practitioner Caralynn Moore’s clinic in Choteau and that from June 1 July, he will open a full-time practice here.
Trista Besich, chief executive of Alluvion Health, said the expansion of services in Choteau reflects Alluvion’s commitment to providing comprehensive care in communities.
Alluvion currently provides health services in Great Falls, Vaughn, Belt and Cascade, with the Vaughn, Belt and Cascade office beginning as school-centered clinics. Alluvion has operated mobile services as far away as Broadus, Livingston, Butte and Billings, but the purchase of the Choteau Clinic is the organization’s first major expansion outside of school services.
Caralynn Moore, 70, was in hospital on June 14 recovering from an illness, but her granddaughter, Amanda Moore Lightner, a teacher who works at the clinic during the summer months, said that her grandmother had put a lot of thought into selling her practice because she wants her patients to retain access to quality care at an affordable cost.
Lightner said her grandmother would continue to work lighter and more flexible hours with the Alluvion Health clinic.
Besich said Alluvion employs about 220 people and has an operating budget of $25 million. The company has 16 clinical sites and Choteau will be the 17th.
“We really like being part of the community,” Besich said.
Besich grew up in Vaughn and went to high school in Simms and remembers playing sports at Choteau High School. She said Alluvion has a number of staff who commute from Teton County to work in Great Falls and will now have the opportunity to work in Choteau.
“I think the more local jobs you can keep, the more opportunities you can create for employment and professional growth and you maintain local incomes. I think that’s how we stabilize rural Montana,” he said. she declared.
Besich said Alluvion is keeping longtime receptionist and scheduler Deana Henderson who has worked in Moore’s office for 14 years and will add a full clinical team, including two registered nurses, two physician assistants, an X-ray technician, a care and two medical providers.
Lightner said that for most of Moore’s time at the clinic, there was just a staff of three: Moore, Henderson and a billing clerk.
The clinic will offer medical services, mobile dental services, behavioral health services and substance abuse treatment services in addition to basic laboratory and x-ray work.
Alluvion has its own lab, Adlera, in Great Falls, and will use this lab and refer patients for other lab work to Benefis Teton Medical Center (BTMC), Choteau’s other medical provider.
BTMC, owned by Benefis Health System of Great Falls, operates a 25-bed critical access hospital with a 24-hour emergency room, community clinic open Monday through Friday, and provides long-term care elderly and disabled patients. BTMC also provides occupational therapy and physiotherapy, laboratory, X-ray and CT scan services.
Besich said Alluvion will contract with local county pharmacies for access to lower-cost medications for patients. Again, she said, this is part of Alluvion’s commitment to building positive relationships with existing vendors and helping local vendors stay in business.
As a Federally Licensed Health Center (FQHC), Alluvion receives cost-based funding through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Primary Care and bills its patients on a mobile charges based on income and ability to pay.
Besich said the mobile fee scale goes all the way down to $10, and the company has the flexibility to waive service fees altogether if necessary. This allows the company to create access to quality medical care for the underinsured and uninsured. “We will never turn away a patient because of an inability to pay. Absolutely never,” she said.
The company takes all the insurance, Besich said, and will do whatever it takes to become an “in-network” provider through contractual relationships with insurers.
Staff in the new Choteau office will also include a care coordinator who helps each patient manage their care and can help them enroll in Medicaid or subsidized health insurance through the federal market.
The Care Coordinator will also assist patients in accessing civil/legal services, financial services, and assistance with housing and food stabilization needs, among others. “Our goal is to create a safety net for our patients,” Besich said, adding that Alluvion uses a patient-centered model of care.
Besich said Alluvion also offers patients a direct primary care option in which they pay a flat fee of $75 per month for medical care. It’s not insurance, but it gives patients access to the care they need and has closed a gap for patients who still need services but may not be eligible for Medicaid, Expanded Medicaid, the federal market or employer-provided insurance coverage, she said.
The clinic will continue to be open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. with the goal of moving to broader office hours of 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. to accommodate people’s work schedules.
Besich said Alluvion has previously worked with the Teton County Health Department in Choteau for COVID-19 and flu vaccination clinics and has a strong relationship with Benefis Health System and the Great Falls Clinic. .
Alluvion was established in 1994 and renamed Alluvion Health in 2019. The company has operated in partnership with the Cascade County Health Department since 1994. Headquarters are in Great Falls at 601 First Ave. N., and the company is remodeling the Rocky Mountain building on Central Avenue and Sixth Street in Great Falls as its future new home. “It’s going to be beautiful when it’s done,” Besich said.
In the future, when a new medical school is established in Great Falls, Besich said she hopes to use Choteau as a clinical site for residency requirements and said the company is also working with the National Health Service Corps. and the Nursing Corps to recruit medical workers.
Alluvion is governed by a board of directors and will seek people from Choteau to serve on that board, she said.
Lightner said Alluvion will provide services here consistent with her grandmother’s priorities of providing choice and access to health care.
Daughter of Ernie and Florence Weist, Caralynn Moore grew up on the ranch at Muddy Creek, about 15 miles east of Agawam. In a previous interview with the Acantha, she recalled playing nurse and caring for kittens, puppies and family members. “From an early age, I knew I wanted to be a nurse,” she said.
Moore graduated from Choteau High School in 1962, enrolled at the Montana State University School of Nursing, earned her associate’s degree, and became a registered nurse.
Fresh out of school, she married Dick Moore of Choteau and began working at Bozeman Deaconess Hospital while Dick completed his studies. She worked as a medical-surgical nurse on the day shift and as a charge nurse on the night shift.
Her husband graduated in 1966, and in May their son was born, the first of their three children. The new parents moved to Simms, where Dick went to work for the Hamilton Ranch.
MSU’s bachelor’s degree nursing program opened around this time, and in 1970 Caralynn enrolled at the College of Great Falls. Cramming for tests, juggling kids and housewife responsibilities, she went to school for 18 months and graduated in December 1971 with her bachelor’s degree in nursing.
In 1972 the family rented land in Farmington, moved and started farming. She worked part-time for Dr. Marcus Johnson and worked at Teton Medical Center in addition to helping out on the farm.
In the early 1980s, Moore expanded her work as a nurse, finding a niche in the burgeoning field of home care. Beginning in 1988, she worked with Benefis Healthcare Inc., providing care and comfort to homebound patients in a four county region. In 1992, she was instrumental in establishing the state’s first hospice program when the Montana Peace Hospice-Teton County program was inaugurated and served as patient care coordinator for the Montana County program. Teton.
Moore set her sights in the early 1990s on earning a master’s degree in nursing and, for the third time in her life, she returned to school, enrolling in a distance learning program from Gonzaga University in Washington.
In 1994 she completed the course, earning her master’s degree in nursing, and she later opened her own medical practice, focusing on primary care for the whole family and keeping her fees as low as possible to allow access to community members.