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Published on July 29, 2016

Fort Peck Tribes receive federal grant to partner with Billings Clinic on telemedicine

Billings, MT—Poplar, MT (July 29, 2016)  – The Fort Peck Tribes Health Promotion Disease Prevention Program is pleased to announce the receipt of a $1.2 million federal grant award from the Health Resources and Services Administration. The funding, provided through the Telehealth Network Grant Program over the next four years, will allow school based health centers on the Fort Peck Reservation to provide health services to students via telemedicine. The project is a partnership with Billings Clinic and the Eastern Montana Telehealth Network. 

Kenny Smoker, Jr., the director of the Fort Peck Tribes Health Promotion Disease Prevention Program, notes that this funding is greatly needed in his community. “The more than 2,100 students served by our School Based Health Clinics have very little access to specialty care in our community, which results in regular commutes to Great Falls or Billings for specialty care for chronic conditions like diabetes or asthma. This partnership provides that same access without students or their families ever having to leave the school building.”  

Mr. Smoker also related, “The forward thinking of the Fort Peck Tribal Executive in creation of the reservation wide School Based Health Center programs is a major investment in children’s health that will reap significant long term benefits to the Tribal membership.”  The Fort Peck Tribes School Based Health Clinics have operated since 2007 and provide primary care, dental and mental health care to all school aged students on the Fort Peck reservation regardless of race, income, or ability to pay. The school based clinics employ more than 30 primary care, mental health and dental healthcare providers and the staff at the clinics regularly identify children with complex health needs who require specialty care and consultation. 

“We anticipate that the telemedicine access to specialty care through Billings Clinic and the Eastern Montana Telehealth Network will add significant value to our existing services by improving outcomes for students needing asthma, diabetes, behavioral health and dental care while also providing consultation and clinical education for our staff,” notes Smoker.  

Resources needed to apply for the grant were made available through another award from the Montana Healthcare Foundation, an example of how small in-state grants can be leveraged for the greater good of local Montana communities.


About the Fort Peck Tribes Health Promotion Disease Prevention Program
The Fort Peck Tribes Health Promotion Disease Prevention (HP/DP) School Based Health Centers are tribally operated, locally controlled initiative whose mission is to restore the traditional values of the Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes and help our communities return to a healthier lifestyle. The program helps increase access to mental, physical, and spiritual health resources by focusing on the health of our communities and the prevention of disease and illness. Each initiative supported through the program looks to our past for the values and traditions that will provide a healthy lifestyle and place to live in the present. For more information visit www.fortpecktribeshpdp.com.

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