- Associated Press - Sunday, April 10, 2016

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) - Rural health care is getting a financial boost after regional health care officials announced nearly $9 million in grants that will help patients in Montana and provide funds for training in Wyoming.

“Today is about the future of health care in the state of Montana and the entire region,” said Shelley Stingley, program director of the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust’s Rural Healthcare Program.

The trust said it will give a nearly $5 million grant to the state for mobile training and simulation centers to train health professionals in rural areas and about $4 million in grants to Billings Clinic’s Internal Medicine Residency program for rotations in rural areas.

The three-year Billings Clinic program includes 18 physicians and will expand to 25 in July.

The trust grants will also pay for four-week rotations at Sheridan Memorial Hospital in Sheridan, Wyo., and at Livingston HealthCare in Livingston for the clinic’s resident physicians.



Health officials said it can be difficult to get physicians into rural health centers.

Dr. Ben Widener, from Sheridan Memorial, said the rotation provides a chance to leave a mark on new doctors.

“It means we have the opportunity to teach and share our passion for internal medicine with a whole new generation of doctors,” he said.

The money also allows them to research rural health care, the Billings Gazette reported (https://tinyurl.com/zwavv9q ).

Gov. Steve Bullock said the programs will have a big impact.

“These aren’t charitable gifts, from my perspective,” he said. “They’re really investments in the health and well-being of Montana.”

Three 18-wheeled trucks will travel to rural areas to provide extra training to health care providers and emergency medical service workers.

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Information from: The Billings Gazette, https://www.billingsgazette.com

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