The East Helena school board has awarded a bid to US Modular to construct a new community health clinic next to Prickly Pear Elementary School.
US Modular submitted a $256,540 bid for the building that will house East Helena’s first medical center, aside from the local dentist.
At a meeting this week, school board member Kevin Bokovoy presented the building committee’s recommendation to go with the US Modular bid.
“The base price was lower and the modular design allows for the district to customize the building as needed,” Bokovoy said.
After a brief discussion, the board unanimously approved the recommendation.
Completion is estimated for April 2019.
The base price of the building is about $197,000, which is slightly above the $183,000 quote given to the school district's Superintendent Ron Whitmoyer in early 2018. However, the base price is still under the $200,000 the board had allotted for the building.
Whitmoyer said the U.S. tariff war with China has driven prices up in the past nine months.
The additional $59,000 in the total price covers delivery and setup of the building. This also includes utility hookups.
Whitmoyer said the price isn’t final, as various aspects can be negotiated down by the district. One example he gave was that the district has leftover siding from building Prickly Pear Elementary that can be used on the clinic. This would make the clinic match the school and reduce the cost of the building.
The clinic will be located across the parking lot from Prickly Pear. The original blueprints for the new school show that the clinic was always planned as part of that property.
This location will place the clinic less than 1.5 miles from every school in the district.
“We wanted the health clinic to benefit the children and the community,” Whitmoyer said. “The district has always tried to be community centered, because the community is the center of our world. This is another way of providing the best quality of care for our kids.”
Whitmoyer explained that if permission is given, a student feeling sick within the district can go directly to the clinic and avoid scheduling and visiting a doctor in Helena.
The clinic also may help the district take better care of students who suffer from increasingly common conditions such as allergies or diabetes.
“We have had more students with medical issues in the past five years than ever before,” Whitmoyer said. He also said he believes it will help keep students in school more often.
“If a student is cleared by the clinic to return to class, they are more likely to do so than a student who went to the doctor in Helena,” he said.
The facility isn’t just for East Helena students; anyone who needs immediate medical care can visit the clinic.
The operation of the facility will cost the district nothing. PureView Health Center will staff the physical health side of the office, and Intermountain will staff the mental health care side. Equipment for the facility will be provided by those staffing the building.
“Our hope is that a health center in East Helena will provide the community, along with Jefferson and Broadwater counties, access to high-quality primary health care and mental health services,” said Jill Steeley, executive director of PureView Health Center.
Steely said PureView also hopes this will help reduce the stigma associated with seeking mental health care by providing it on the school grounds within a primary care setting.
“All that was needed was a building for a clinic to be here,” Whitmoyer said. “So we provided the building and they will take care of the rest.”
The district will retain ownership of the building. Whitmoyer said that if the clinic ever moves to another building, this building could be used for offices or classrooms.