Heritage Health Center looks to meet community health needs

By Ryan Fitzmaurice

Heritage Health Center aims to provide medical services for the whole community, providers at the new clinic in Lovell say. 

“Our goal, our mission as a clinic, is to be able to offer healthcare for people with insurance and people without insurance,” family medicine provider Joseph Davidson, PA-C said.  “High income. Low income. Homeless. People that are typically underprivileged or have difficulty affording or needing healthcare.”

The 229 East Main Street location, which opened its doors on October 4, offers a variety of services, including wellness visits, primary medical care, substance use screenings and counseling, physicals, advance directives and long-term care planning, insurance assistance and women’s health and contraception, among several other services. Dental services can be provided out of Greybull and Heritage Health is currently in the process of expanding the service. Counseling and behavioral health is also offered and looking at ways to be expanded. 

Rapid testing for COVID-19 as well as a viral clinic for flu and COVID-19-like symptoms are available through the service. Telehealth services are also available, as is walk-in care. 

 “The goal, the reason we got started, was to offer something in this area to fill that gap of affordable healthcare for people who may not be able to afford healthcare,” Davidson said. “It can sometimes be pretty expensive to see a doctor.”

Davidson said patients have an application they can fill out that takes into account factors like income and family size, and the center can offer discounts and a sliding scale rate based on those factors.

“Even if you do have health insurance you can still qualify,” Davidson said. “For example, you can qualify if you have a high deductible.”

Patients with an income under 200 percent of the federal guidelines can receive rates as low as $20 a day.

A family of five who makes $60,000 would qualify for the sliding fee scale, Davidson said. The sliding scale also has multiple levels.

“It’s not like you pass or fail on the sliding fee,” Amy Johnson, certified medical assistant, said. “There are five different levels of it. If there is one person in your household, you can make a maximum of 25,760 and you would be in our Group E. In Group E, your office visit would be $55.”

The company opened its first clinic in Powell in September 2015 and has since opened a clinic in Greybull before opening a location in Lovell.

“We had been approached by multiple community members regarding providing services in the area and had seen increases in the number of area residents coming to our Powell location for care,” CEO Colette Mild said. “It is our intention to make it easy and convenient to our patients to receive quality medical care.”

Johnson said that is the reason she works for the Heritage Health Center, because of the increased focus on caring for patients. She recalled when she started working at the Powell location and a
doctor asked her to check on a patient that had just taken a trip to the emergency room. 

Johnson said she was taken aback. 

“I was like, ‘I can just call and check on people? Don’t you think if they want to see us they would call us and make an appointment?’” Johnson recounted. “That’s not the case here. We try to do everything to make it easier on our patients. We call radiology and make X-ray appointments for them, find resources to help them afford their medications. If they don’t have insurance we find other avenues to get medications for free or below cost.”

Registered Nurse Cari Jones said what she values about the clinic is their focus on holistic health.

“It’s not just the physical health we focus on,” Jones said. “It’s the mental and the spiritual.” 

Jones said she often develops personal relationships with the patients she works with.

Mild said this approach is fundamental to Heritage Health.

“We see people from all walks of life, birth to death and all income levels.  Whole Health for the Whole Family, meaning we don’t just focus on medical care, but the whole of why someone has come to see us, which often goes beyond their physical or medical circumstance,” Mild said. “Getting to know patients, what is happening in their life, and going the extra mile to help them results in better service and better outcomes for the patient.  Monetary needs or other life circumstances often prevent people from reaching physical health or medical goals and we are here to break down those barriers.”

Davidson said the clinic’s primary goal is to serve the communities’ unmet needs.

“Here in Big Horn County we have a lot of underserved residents,” Davidson said. “Wyoming in general is underserved in medical and mental health services. We want to fit into that gap and extend medical options for people who can’t afford traditional healthcare or traditional dental care or traditional behavioral health.” 

The clinic is currently open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Thursday.