BILLINGS - Jon Forte is the new president and C.E.O. of RiverStone Health.
He's been on the job for about a week and talked about RiverStone's role in overseeing community health.
On Forte's second day last week, his predecessor John Felton, Yellowstone County health officer, helped present the Yellowstone County Community Health Assessment, a report highlighting many things including the concerns of mental health.
"How do we develop resources and create more effective ways for folks to know when they're down on their luck, to have someone to reach out and talk to," Forte said.
Forte last worked as C.E.O. and vice-president of the Choptank Community Health System in Maryland and with the Veterans Health Administration, before that, seeing firsthand the mental health challenges for veterans and civilians.
"It's something that I was seeing in Maryland," Forte said. "Behavioral health and mental health crisis is nationwide, really across the globe. We see it in health care as the number one issue."
The Continuum Of Care looks to help people who are homeless, with needs such as mental health help.
Kari Boiter, board president, is thankful that mental health has been made a priority.
"It's always encouraging when public health partners acknowledge that health and wellness go beyond our physical needs and extend to our emotional well-being and social needs," Boiter said.
She also said mental health has a great effect on community health.
Boiter and Forte say COVID-19 didn't help in other areas, something Felton talked about last week.
"Doctors, nurses, public health people have always been among the most esteemed and highly trusted groups of people," Felton said. "COVID hurt that."
Felton is optimistic that trust can come back, as is Forte.
"RiverStone has always been trusted health care provider to the city of Billings and Yellowstone County, and that will continue for sure," Forte said.
Felton will stay on as county health officer until the end of 2023 and help Forte with the transition into the president and CEO position.