Shodair Children's Hospital opening mental-health clinics for kids in Missoula, Butte

Posted at 8:28 AM, Dec 23, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-23 12:11:40-05

Shodair Children’s Hospital will be opening mental-health clinics for children in Missoula and Butte, saying it wants to help alleviate a shortage of these services where they’re needed.

The Helena-based hospital also says the clinics are a collaboration with other health-care providers in the local community.

“I think for the first time we’re starting to talk about how we can do things with a collaborative model, instead of trying to compete with one another,” Shodair Hospital CEO Craig Aasved told MTN News. “In mental health, there are just not enough resources available to be able to compete against.”

The Missoula clinic, opening Jan. 6, will be at Community Medical Center, one of two hospitals in Missoula. The Butte clinic will open within the next few months; its locale has yet to be determined.

Shodair officials also say they may open additional, similar clinics, at the invitation of communities that need them. Shodair said it’s been talking to people in Bozeman and other Montana communities.

In Butte, for example, the new clinic will help fill the gap created by this year’s closure of Acadia, which provided residential mental-health treatment for children, Shodair officials said.

“It just speaks to the lack of access in the state, as we are being bombarded by kids coming here from all over Montana,” Aasved said. “So it really made sense for us to look at key markets in Montana and really look at putting clinics in those communities.”

Shodair is a 74-bed hospital that provides residential treatment for mentally troubled children. But it also opened its own out-patient clinic last year, to provide treatment for children who may not need to be in a hospital.

Nine children visited the clinic during its first month, but this October – a year later – the clinic saw more than 600 patients, said John Brewer, director of outpatient services for Shodair.

“The growth has been huge and the need is huge, so as we move into these communities … I think we’ll probably see similar numbers,” he said. “Child and adolescent psychiatry is a pretty scarce resource.”

The clinics will have psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners and several types of therapists, and offer services for children with autism or mental illness, Brewer said.

“One of the biggest things that we’re hoping to achieve is basically being a conduit in these communities, to get everyone on the same page for providing care for these children,” he said.

Allison Young, a physician at Missoula Valley Pediatrics, told MTN News that the Shodair clinic will be a welcome addition to child services in Missoula, where there’s not enough providers to fill the demand.

It also will offer coordinated care for children who may need a range of services, she said.

“We’re very pleased about the outreach and the level of collaboration around this clinic,” Young said. “I have families who are excited about this clinic already and it hasn’t quite yet started.”