When Glacier Comm-unity Health Center (GCHC) opened their dental office in 2009, it was their hope to have that line of service in the building on Main Street where they currently provide medical care.
However, space was tight in their building and they were growing with the medical services they were offering, so GCHC’s dental office found its home down the street on Central Avenue. It was further than what they wanted at the time, but until another plan could be put into place to have them closer, it would have to do.
It did “do” just fine. “But we wanted them to be closer and be part of the GCHC family on this block,” said Betsy Seglem, Chief Operations Officer at GCHC.
The building a few feet away from GCHC started having a few vacancies when Blackfeet Manpower moved out, Opportunities Inc. combined with Head Start and then moved to the Sons of Norway building and the local Medicaid office was closed some time ago by the State of Montana.
The only tenant still occupying the building was Job Service.
When the building came up for sale late last year, GCHC jumped at the chance to grab it and knew it was just right for their dental office.
“We bought the building in December of 2018 and have renovated half of it for our dental office. The other half is still occupied by Job Service. They lease that space from us,” said Angie Haas, Chief Executive Officer and Chief Financial Officer of GCHC. “Having that space allows us to have our dental services offered on our campus, which has long been our goal.”
The inside of the building they are using for their dental office was renovated and now has five dental spaces, one dental hygiene cubical, a state-of-the-art sterilization-cleaning room, an office for the dental providers to share and a reception and waiting area.
“Our dental department was growing beyond the space we had. Now, we have about 2,400 square feet and that works much better,” Angie said.
GCHC dental has two dentists, Danielle Kennedy, who started working in that office in March of last year and Don Ririe, who started this past January. MacKenzie Carlson is the dental hygienist who has been with GCHC for two years.
“We also have four dental assistants and two people working the reception area. There just was not enough cupboards to put people in at the old building,” Betsy added with a smile. “Now they are all very excited about the new space and very happy to be in there.”
June 3 the doors were open for business at the new office site. The ladies admitted there are a few things to finish, like some additional, new equipment still to come in and be put in place, but other than that, they are more than ready to see patients and have been.
“We see approximately 2,000 patients a year coming to the dental office and we are fairly certain those numbers will go up,” said Betsy. “We get patients from Cut Bank, Browning, Valier, Shelby, Babb, St. Mary, East Glacier, Sunburst and Conrad.”
“We were limited in numbers we could see because our space was limited,” added Angie. “The new office will help that tremendously and we expect our numbers to continue to go up.”
GCHC is celebrating its 15th year of being in and serving this community. They started providing dental services in 2009 and behavioral health services in 2011. Right now, they have three medical providers and three behavioral health providers.
“We are just shy of 40 employees across the whole clinic,” said Betsy. “We started with five employees. We have really grown in 15 years.”