Community Health Partners (CHP) grew from just two employees in Livingston in 1997 to its full strength of 145 staff across five delivery sites in existence now. This diverse staff of physicians, dentists, nurse practitioners, physicians’ assistants, therapists, dental hygienists, nurses, resource coordinators, educational experts, and others, allow CHP to provide a wide array of services to its patients every day. No other primary care organization in Gallatin or Park Counties offers the breadth of services that CHP does to patients across all income bands.
Members of the CHP leadership and clinical teams are regularly called upon by Montana’s congressional delegation, the Governor’s office, and the media to provide perspective on current health policy, proposed changes to legislation that might affect its patients, as well as human interest background to understand how policy impacts the everyday lives of Montanans. On July 7th, CHP’s CEO, Lander Cooney, and nurse practitioner, Kristi King, FNP, met with Governor Steve Bullock in Bozeman to discuss the importance of Medicaid expansion during the troubling times of COVID-19. Opportunities for CHP to illuminate issues and advocate for its patients are integral for all CHP staff members.
“We try to accept all the invitations we can to tell the story of how policy affects the hard-working people of Gallatin and Park Counties,” Cooney said. “Our patients count on us to help promote and protect the health of their families, so our staff spends lots of time digging into the details to understand what makes sense for our patients and what doesn’t.”
While all of CHP’s staff could work anywhere, most choose CHP for its mission: to enhance community health and well-being. Translating this into everyday work means connecting with each individual patient partnering to achieve better health outcomes whether it be through behavioral, dental, or medical interventions or all of the above. Our staff believes that the mind and body are tightly connected, which means bringing a multi-disciplinary team of professionals into our buildings to meet the needs of our patients in all forms. CHP, in its designation as a “Patient-centered medical home”, sees its work as being the center of a wheel, with each spoke leading back to the patient’s care team whose responsibility is managing the various preventive care recommendations as well as any specialty consultations and testing that the patient may need.
“Our care team comes from all backgrounds, including some of the top schools and training programs in the nation, and work at CHP because they believe that everyone, regardless of their ability to pay, deserves the highest-quality care,” noted Stefanie Lange, MD, MPH, CHP’s medical director. “I’m consistently impressed with the team that CHP attracts, and once here, they tend to stay a long time.” Staff also serve their communities as non-profit, local school and county health board members, youth leaders, local and statewide task force members, and more. Chances are that if there is an initiative to help disenfranchised populations, CHP staff can be found there rolling up their sleeves to solve problems.
Another arm of CHP is its board of directors, which, by law, must comprise at least 51% consumers of CHP’s services. Board members, with a diverse background in a variety of areas, ensure that the organization functions effectively and efficiently meeting its obligations to its stakeholders and patients. With more than half of board members choosing to be CHP patients, members know firsthand how the operations work and if anything needs to be tweaked to better serve patients.
CHP is a trusted voice in the communities it serves, striving to advocate for fairness and equity in healthcare and education because the two go hand-in-hand. By telling stories of what staff see and do on behalf of their patients, pictures are painted for the community and policymakers to better understand how things work in the real world.