Building A Community Health Center

Eco-Steward Dave Grace is a sustainable agriculture major at Warren Wilson College. After participating in the Eco-Stewards Montana Program in June, Dave stayed in Montana to work as a summer intern at Greenwood Farm. Here he reflects on a discussion with board members of the Bighorn Valley Health Center.

HARDIN, Montana– In the spacious workshop at Greenwood Farm, our Eco-Stewards contingent gathered with Hardin community members to discuss the proposed Bighorn Valley Health Center. The workshop, where we ate many of our meals, was cleared to arrange chairs in a circle for the discussion. Dr. David Mark, who is the CEO of the community health center, gave an overview of the proposal and opened the floor up for dialogue with other volunteers who are helping to make the health center a reality.

Bighorn Valley Health Center Board Members talk to the Eco-Stewards at Greenwood Farm

One obvious distinction with other health providers in the area is that the Bighorn Valley Health Center is a not-for-profit entity that is entirely run by volunteers. This seems to be one of many distinctions. In order to be a Federally Qualified Health Center, which the center is awaiting confirmation on, the board must be made up of local residents who, taken together, reflect the gender and racial ratio of the county. To me, this seems an obvious benefit in terms of capacity to serve the community: How else could the question of health be adequately addressed, except when considered from within the context of the social and physical environment of the community?

Using a preventative approach, Bighorn Valley Health Center seeks to address the effects of long-term health problems at their root by making connections between human behavior and environmental quality. Perhaps most significantly, this care is being directed toward the most vulnerable– statistically identified as those who are 200 percent below the federal poverty level.

Our discussion concluded in prayer, blessing the efforts of those who are committed to opening the doors of the health center to the people of Big Horn County.

According to its website, Bighorn Valley Health Center is “committed to developing a community-based, outpatient health care and multi-service center designed to serve the whole community of Big Horn County. We recognize that though health care begins by alleviating sickness, the journey to a true culture of health is achieved through the health of the whole person and the whole community.” To learn more about the health center, click here.

And follow this link to read Eco-Steward leader Katie Holmes’ reflection about the community garden we visited at St. Andrew Presbyterian Church in Billings.

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