The state employee health clinic in Miles City closed Friday, after efforts to boost the number of patients failed, making its continued operation financially unfeasible.
Clinics in Helena, Billings, Missoula, Butte and Anaconda remain in operation. The Miles City clinic opened in 2013.
“The center was opened originally to try to serve people in the eastern side of the state a little bit better,” Marilyn Bartlett, director administrator of the state’s Health Care Benefits Division, said by telephone Thursday. “We could never reach utilization targets.”
For a clinic to remain financially healthy, at least 85 percent of available appointments must be used, “and we were never able to reach that point with Miles City,” she said.
Citing numbers, Bartlett said 48 20-minute appointment slots were open per week at the clinic. But, on average, the clinic averaged only 14 visits a week.
A number of different strategies were employed to boost user numbers, which is open two days a week, Bartlett said. The clinic changed providers, revised its operation hours, sought to get the word out to employees about the available services and opened it up to a couple of other employee groups, to no avail.
The clinic also had a difficult time recruiting part-time staff. It employed a nurse and two physicians, each doctor working one day a week, and one of t ...