HARDIN — While visiting Hardin Wednesday, Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte donated his first quarter salary to One Health Big Horn clinic and said he was proud of the work done at the facility to help people fighting addiction.
"I became familiar with their work, their addiction recovery and mental health services and they are helping people get back on their feet. I couldn’t think of a more worthwhile cause than One Health Big Horn to help more people recover from drug addiction and become all they can be," Gianforte said.
The donation totaled about $30,000. The Montana governor's salary is $118,397 per year, according to Ballotpedia. Gianforte founded RightNow Technolgies in Bozeman 24 years ago and is Montana's wealthiest residents.
One Health operates eight clinics across the state. David Mark, One Health CEO and primary care physician, said he was thankful for the governor's generosity.
“We’re excited by the work that his administration is doing to really prioritize an approach to care that really considers the person as a whole, not as little bits and pieces or parts. We’re really thankful to be a part of that process and sort of astounded by his generosity," Mark said.
Mark said the clinic is a one-stop shop for the patient, with staff offering primary and outpatient medical care, behavioral healthcare and substance use disorder treatment. Staff also can help with transportation, Apsáalooke language translation and insurance registration, Mark said.
Telemedicine is an aspect of healthcare that has allowed One Health staff to reach more people in rural parts of the state and they had to jump in head first with the technology because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Mark said.
"We want to bring care to people rather than make people come to us for care. We've long known that connecting people virtually through telemedicine is going to be part of how care is delivered in a comprehensive way," Mark said.
Gianforte said he was proud of efforts made in the 67th Legislative Session this year to permanently keep telemedicine waivers that were made for the purporses of the pandemic permanent with HB 43. The law makes it so no prior relationship is required between the provider and patient to seek care, among other requirements.
"We saw rapid adoption of telehealth. In this most recent Legislature, we made the waivers for telehealth permanent in Montana so we can continue to benefit from the great gains in telehealth," Gianforte said.
Mark said the law will make it easier to keep expanding telemedicine across One Health.
"One of the silver linings in the pandemic was that the waivers that were put into place to allow that to occur during the pandemic were recently made permanent by the Legislature. In this state, that will be a permanent part of how we do care moving forward," Mark said.