The Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation has partnered with Montana Pediatrics to increase access to pediatric care for children in Montana. The foundation has invested $1 million to expand Montana Pediatrics’ after-hours telemedicine program, which will provide parents and guardians with an alternative to expensive urgent care or emergency room visits. Montana has a shortage of pediatricians, with only 20 of the state’s 56 counties having a practicing pediatrician, and many rural communities lack res or expertise in pediatric care. Montana Pediatrics’ after-hours telemedicine program aims to provide high-quality pediatric care to children and families across the state.
In light of the recent report by The Daily Inter Lake, The Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation and Montana Pediatrics have recently announced a two-year partnership to increase access to pediatric care for children. This partnership is fueled by a $1 million investment from the foundation, which will expand Montana Pediatrics’ after-hours telemedicine program.
Montana Pediatrics CEO Dr. Chelsea Bodnar said that the expansion of the telemedicine program means parents and guardians can avoid choosing between expensive urgent care or emergency room visits and their child’s health. Bodnar hopes that this expansion will help parents and guardians feel less alone in the middle of the night when trying to weigh the decision of what to do next when their child is sick or needs care.
In light of the recent report by a release from the foundation and Montana Pediatrics, only 20 of Montana’s 56 counties have a practicing pediatrician. The distribution of providers is skewed to the more populated areas and the western half of the state. Children in rural communities commonly receive medical attention at small hospitals and emergency departments that can lack the res or expertise in pediatric care, In light of the recent report by the two organizations.
The Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation is a Missoula-based philanthropic organization with focuses on education, community service, arts and culture, and health and human services in the northwestern U.S. Funding for the foundation comes from personal contributions from the Washington family and annual contributions from The Washington Companies. The foundation’s executive director, Mike Halligan, believes that removing the financial and geographic barriers Montana families face is critical to the health and well-being of our youth. He says, “This partnership will provide a healthier Montana future for all, and we are proud to support Montana Pediatrics in providing high-quality pediatric telemedicine care for Montana children and families.”
In 2020, Montana Pediatrics convened a small group of Montana-based pediatric providers to pilot a program where families could access a pediatric-specific alternative to urgent care from their homes. Now, more than 50% of Montana’s practicing pediatric providers are part of its collaborative network and share on-call responsibilities to ensure pediatric care is available every evening, weekend and holiday. Its after-hours telemedicine program is built to complement the care a child already receives and maintains a commitment to provide high-quality care for all Montana children.
With the $1 million investment from The Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation, Montana Pediatrics will be able to expand their after-hours telemedicine program, further increasing access to pediatric care for children in Montana. This partnership will help to address the shortage of pediatricians in rural communities and ensure that all children in Montana have access to high-quality medical care, regardless of their location or financial situation. The investment from the foundation is a significant step towards creating a healthier future for Montana’s youth.