BILLINGS – Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana announced Monday a $250,000 donation to lead a new fundraising campaign by the Billings Clinic Foundation.
The goal is to help sustain Montana’s first-ever psychiatry residency.
“Montana is in the middle of a mental health crisis,” said John Doran, divisional vice president of external affairs at Blue Cross and Blue Shield.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield said in a press release the gift kicks off a $3.3 million fundraising campaign by the Billings Clinic Foundation for the Psychiatry Endowment Fund, which will provide additional monies for the psychiatry residency program at Billings Clinic after its start-up period.
The endowment fund will help Billings Clinic maintain a sustainable psychiatry residency program for the region with an emphasis on recruiting residents that want to practice in Montana.
“Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana continues to be a leader in health care in Montana and their generous commitment will help to ensure the lasting improvement of regional mental health care access for all Montanans,” Jim Duncan, president of the Billings Clinic Foundation, said in a press release.
Billings Clinic announced in September 2018 the creation of Montana’s first-ever psychiatry residency program. The program will be a regional track of the University of Washington Psychiatry Residency Training Program.
Earlier this fall, Blue Cross and Blue Sheild launched The Big Blue Sky Initiative, a statewide educational campaign to help fight opioid abuse, rising suicide rates, and meth and heroin epidemics spreading across Montana.
Residents will be integrated into Billings Clinic Psychiatric Services, which includes Montana’s largest outpatient psychiatric practice, a 44-bed inpatient psychiatric unit serving children and adults, and the state’s most comprehensive behavioral health team made up of 12 psychiatrists, five nurse practitioners, and one physician assistant.
The residency has received more than 400 applicants to date for its first class and is now interviewing potential residents. The program will begin matching psychiatrists in early 2019 and will bring in its first class the following summer.