Dr. Heather McRee

In this IR file photo, Dr. Heather McRee checks the heart of a patient at PureView Health Center in Helena.

Lewis and Clark County has approved plans to end its relationship with PureView Health Center. 

Before the county commission voted on the change last week, the county and PureView agreed that the change would be in the best interest of both parties. Commissioner Susan Good Geise, who sits on PureView's board of trustees, likened the split to an adult child moving out of their parents' home. 

Geise said the change will make it easier for the health center to get things done, as the bureaucratic nature of county policy requires PureView to get approval for things like grant applications.

Jill Steeley, executive director of PureView, said the split will officially take place March 1, 2020. Steeley said there will be no changes for patients or PureView's satellite offices in Lincoln or East Helena. 

"We hope this will be very seamless for the patients," Steeley said. "Most of the changes are behind the scenes, like hiring new human resources and information technology people." 

Since Steeley is technically the only PureView employee who doesn't work for Lewis and Clark County, she said, all staff members will be terminated by the county and subsequently hired by the health center. Steeley said these employees will not have to reapply for their jobs or go through any hiring process. She said their years of service, pay and new benefits will be equal to what they received from the county. 

PureView's relationship with the county dates back to 1994, when the health center was founded. Steeley said the intent was to build a community health center for those who were homeless or lacked insurance, and PureView needed grant funding to do that. The county liked the idea and took the health center under its wing. 

PureView now serves people both without and with health insurance, which makes the business self-sustaining, according to Steeley. 

"Using their infrastructure now just stops us from being nimble," Steeley said. "By nature of being a local government, they have a lot of policies and procedures that stop us from working at the speed of health care."

Steeley said PureView is doing well on its own and believes the time to end the 25-year relationship has come. However, she did express her appreciation for all the help the county provided PureView over the years, especially getting the facility started in the beginning. 

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