In the News

10th Annual Walktober Revs Up Fall Fitness in Granite County

Published September 10, 2015, View the event on Facebook or email .

Granite County residents will kick off the 10th annual Walktober event by walking the first mile together through the streets of Philipsburg and Drummond on October 1st. Walktober is celebrating its 10th year with a month-long event and competition for prizes, including an activity tracker worth over $100. Residents are encouraged to form a team of four to 10 people and join the 500 or 1,000 clubs to kick-off the fall holiday season in a healthy way. Although participants aren’t required to take part in the kick-off event, those who are interested will meet at the Philipsburg or Drummond Libraries at Noon on October 1st, wearing pink for breast cancer awareness.

Walktober Flyer Image copy

Walktober is the brainchild of Peggy Jensen, physical therapist at the Granite County Medical Center, and a former patient of hers, Sharon McCoy. 12 years ago, they wanted to inspire fitness in the community to celebrate National Physical Therapy Month. Although it started as a one-time event, it became a popular way to get out and get active before the snow falls.

This local event has changed over its tenure. Although about 150 Granite County residents have taken part each year, it has grown steadily toward loftier fitness targets. It started with a 100-mile club and soon increased to include a 300-mile club. Now, 500 and 1,000-mile clubs are the only options offered. The teams have kept pace, with 5,421 total miles walked in 2005 and 9,557 miles logged last year—in the past 10 years, participants have nearly doubled their total miles walked.  

The Granite County Medical Foundation has joined the effort this year in order to provide outreach for the event and prizes to Walktober winners. The winning individual who logs the most miles will receive a Garmin Vivofit Activity Tracker with Heart Rate Monitor. The winning team in each mileage category will win a special meal prepared by Chef Brent of Parker’s restaurant. Winning teams will also be recognized at the 2015 Festival of Trees at The Ranch at Rock Creek on November 14th. 

Granite County Medical Foundation Board Member Maria Conn said, “The Foundation conducts a survey after the Women’s Wellness Brunch where people always ask about local fitness opportunities. What better time to get active, than to participate in Walktober? Many of us are looking to start a new program that will keep us moving in the winter. We hope we can help more people take advantage of this wonderful event that Peggy Jensen has brought to the community.”


Peggy Jensen encouraged people to use the exercise conversion chart that’s provided to the teams, in order to remain active in the winter months.  Activities like chopping wood, cleaning your house or riding a stationary bike count as logged exercise during the event. As the snow falls, she recommended people find a winter sport they love, such as snowshoeing or cross-country skiing that allows them to get in the sun and enjoy the landscape.

Jensen added, “I think Granite County is getting more and more active every year. You can see that with the new Flint Creek Trails Association, the Philipsburg Rotary bike skills project and the Drummond Kiwanis Riverside Park and trail. People want to stay fit and active and healthy.” To enroll your team, email Peggy at , call 859-6512 or stop in at the Medical Center before October 1st. 

GCMC on the Mend

By Tom Mullen, Published in The Philipsburg Mail, August 20, 2015

“In the beginning of 2012 we had only about 12 people in our census,” Maria Stoppler said of the patient count at Granite County Medical Center (GCMC), “now our census is 20.”

Maria StopplerStoppler took the CEO reins in December after six months as Director of Nursing. Now she juggles both jobs but credits the dramatic increase in hospital use to communication.

“Honestly, most of it was just reaching out to other hospitals, saying to them, ‘we’re here, we have excellent facilities and a great reputation.’ It’s about putting a face with a name, which means getting in contact with the discharger person at St. Pats and letting them know, ‘when you discharge your patients, we want them in their home hospital. If they need a swing bed or they may need long term care. We want to be the first that you call if they’re from our community.” Stoppler said the financials of the hospital haven’t been better for years.

“We ended the fiscal year with 21 days cash on-hand and that was recovering from an all-time low with minus 20-day cash-on-hand. That’s a negative $228,000 she said, adding that the $150,000 in emergency loans GCMC took in order to stay afloat during those difficult times have been repaid. The utilization of the Philipsburg Clinic is at a five-year high too, ” she said.

“They are averaging about 240 visits a month and that’s because more people, when they have the choice, are choosing to come here. And I think that’s a reflection in the consistency we’ve had in providers. We have some excellent providers and that always helps when it comes to where people choose to use facilities. Physical Therapy is at an all time high as well,” Stoppler said.

The Drummond Clinic, which suffered loss of usage after some residents in that area pursued secession from the County Hospital District is now holding steady.

“I’m optimistic that utilization will continue to improve. We’re still open two days a week and when those fill, we will absolutely consider expanding, but I think it’s going to take time. I think we’re gaining confidence that we are going to be there, but it’s a slow rebuilding process and I’m just glad we can be there.”

The Board, she added, has finalized their request for a new mill levy ballot, choosing to ask the voters for $380,000 per year over three years.

“I know it’s a little bit higher than last time, but what we included was just an inflationary rate increase because each year our expenses go up about two percent,” Stoppler said.

She added that the levy is on the County Commissioners’ desk. They will decide whether or not to allow the tax and then Election Commissioner Blanche McLure is expected to schedule a vote before the end of the year.

“When we closed our fiscal year our expenses were under by 42 thousand so that shows that we cut as many expenses on our end as we could,” she added. “We improved our billing process and so we are capturing more of the money. We got caught up on billing our secondary insurances, say someone has Medicare and a supplement, you would bill the first one, but if you don’t bill the second in a timely manner, the patient gets a delay in their billing. It could be six, eight, 10 months before it went to the patient. And we redesigned our internal billing process to be efficient and timely,” Stoppler said.

The following is an article published in The Missoulian that details all the wonderful contributions H & R Thrift Store has made to the Granite County Medical Center. In 2013-2014, the Granite County Medical Foundation purchased 13 beds for the hospital and long-term care facility. This year, H&R Thrift completed the hospital bed project by purchasing 12 additional beds for the facility. Although the Granite County Medical Foundation and H & R Thrift have different missions, we are very happy to work in tandem with them to provide health care support in Granite County.

Hospital Help

Philipsburg thrift store keeps medical center doors open

By Alice Miller, Published in The Missoulian on May 18, 2015, read the original article here

PHILIPSBURG—If not for the H&R Thrift Store, the Granite County Medical Center here might not be open today and it assuredly would look much different.

A flurry of factors, including lower reimbursements and higher costs, led to the institution falling short by about $60,000 last year, but the thrift store was able to step in and cover the costs so the hospital could meet its basic obligations, including payroll and medical supplies.

“The main reason is that’s what we do,” said Angela Knauer, who has worked at H&R for 20 years and managed it for 10.

“If we hadn’t have stepped in, it wouldn’t have been there,” Knauer said of the hospital’s existence.

5556a305bbc66.imageThe thrift store has offered the hospital and its long-term care facility financial help for special projects and upgrades since it opened in 1981. Lighting in the emergency room, wallpaper, flooring, new hospital beds, waiting room furniture and more are all thanks to donations from the thrift store, which operates with the sole purpose of helpning make patients’ lives more comfortable.

Don Leese is a beneficiary of one of the two new high-tech hospital beds that came with a $5,000 price tag. The thrift store also is in the process of buying 11 other hospital beds, the cost of which will total more than $34,000.

“The bed is good, if a hospital bed can be good,” Leese said, adding it allows him to control the settings. The bed’s control panel detaches from its frame so residents can hold the large-buttoned controls in their lap or have it nearby. Nurses appreciate the beds, too. “It makes it nice. It’s a lot easier on the back,” Wendy Braach said.5556a30651a33.image

Purchases have been commemorated on a plaque, which has reached its capacity of engravings. “Every department has benefitted,” said Sharon Fillbach, purchasing manager at Granite County Medical Center.

The system is simple: The hospital submits information to make a request and the thrift store workers decide if it’s something they will fund. The answer is always yes, although sometimes proposals are sent back for refinement, Knauer said. “It’s how we’ve always done it and it works,” she added about the informal process.

More than 20 volunteers keep the store running, help customers and sort and clean the items that are then reused by others.

The work is never-ending, but doing it doesn’t feel like a job. “We get to talking a lot. We call it our water cooler,” Knauer said, laughing.

Knauer said that she couldn’t quantify the amount of items donated every year, but that the community is generous. “It’s unbelievable the stuff that we get,” she said.

5556a306b28db.imageJennifer Graham’s Granite High School life skills students spent a recent morning perusing the shelves for kitchen items. “I really want to keep shopping, but I can’t hold anymore,” junior Kyra Brabender said as she juggled cutting boards, dishes and more in her arms. Brabender comes to the store when she’s not in school, especially before spirit days or Halloween. “It’s really interesting. You can find just about anything,” she said.

Shopping at the store makes sense because the money goes to a good cause and the items are being reused, Graham said. It’s also an economical way to find items for use in the student kitchen areas. “I can do it on my life skills budget,” Graham said.

Like some of her students, Graham too, comes to the store for shopping needs and said her family, including her brother who lives out of state, also enjoy the store. “I like it because it does benefit the hospital,” said Graham, who also teaches history.

In the winter, business can be slow, but during July several years ago, the store brought in a record $10,000.

One thing that doesn’t fluctuate is the community support fo the store that locals call Philipsburg’s mall because of the variety of items. The store provides a shopping venue for quality items for people who can’t travel to a larger town or for people who have tight budgets, which is not uncommon in Granite County, Fillbach said.

“It’s just good all the way around,” Knauer said.

5556a306eb6ef.imageWithout the store’s contributions, the hospital would have to do without, said Maria Stoppler, CEO and director of nursing at the hospital. Keeping the 25-bed critical-access hospital doors open positively impacts the community and helps drive economic development, Stoppler said.

Emergency services also are vital in an outdoor recreation hot spot, especially when the first hour after a trauma is the most critical. Community members also access dental and primary care at the facility, which also supports a clinic in Drummond.

The impacts of the thrift store’s donations do more than provide the hospital with improvements, Stoppler said. “Everything that they’ve given has improved the quality of patients’ lives,” she said.




First Festival of Trees Gala Auction a Big Success!

The Granite County Medical Foundation’s (GCMF) Festival of Trees on November 22, 2015 raised $20,776.48 for the charity’s granite-county-montananon-profit projects. This result was the culmination of 12 months of planning, 70 separate volunteer, in-kind or monetary donations and over 200 people attending from across Granite County.

The inaugural Festival of Trees was planned after three trees were decorated and auctioned at the GCMF’s 2013 Holiday Party. The 2014 event included a Decorator’s Night on November 19th, a Tree Preview Night on November 20th and a Gala Auction on November 22nd.

During the Decorator’s Night, over 50 people gathered to decorate 16 trees over the course of four hours (with several people working into the night). The Taylor-Knapp Building was bustling as the trees were strung with lights and filled with ornaments, garlands and small presents. At the Tree Preview event on Thursday, community members picked up an auction list, browsed through trees and voted on their favorites.

The Gala Auction garnered the most attendance, with over 150 people joining the celebration. After the Cat-Griz game, attendees enjoyed wine, beer, cocoa and cupcakes. Meanwhile, Executive Chef Josh Drage served two tables full of gourmet hors d’oeuvres, including smoked Seder fish, cabbage and granite-county-medical-foundationpork crostini, cheeses, meats, grilled lettuce, spinach dip and more. Murmurs of “Amazing” and “I wish I hadn’t eaten before I came here” were heard from the crowd.

GCMF Board Member Jodi Oberweiser spoke about the Foundation projects, explaining that event proceeds are coupled with recent grant awards to fund health projects, such as the long-term care facility bed replacement project, the well-child checkup program, the 2015 Women’s Wellness Brunch (February 7, 2015) and providing support for the Granite County Hospital District on an ongoing basis. She encouraged community members to reach out or join the board if they want to get involved in improving health care in Granite County.

The Granite County Medical Foundation is a 501(c)3 charity (EIN: #27-1118145) and a qualified Montana endowment. Donated funds may be eligible for a tax-deduction, less the value of goods received.

Board Member Jim Jenner led the stocking and tree auction, describing and selling over 20 lots. One stocking, donated by Granite Pharmacy, sold for $220, while trees were sold for up to $1,100. Two trees were sold for over $1,000 and seven were sold for over $500. The Ranch at Rock Creek donated an additional $5,000 at the event, in addition to an anonymous donation of $1,000.

festival-of-treesJenner also announced the three award-winning trees, as decided after a two-day community vote. John Vukonich and Lauren Bouldin and The Philipsburg Rotary Club (sponsor) won the award for Best Granite County Tree for their Coming Home to Granite County Tree. Marilee Klaudt and Blackfoot Telecommunications Group (sponsor) won the award for Best Classic Tree for their 60th Anniversary Tree. Tom, Annie and Susie Mullen and The Philipsburg Mail (sponsor) won the award for Most Original Tree for their Holiday Spirits Tree. View photos of all the trees or in our movie below.

The event could not have taken place without the help of its talented decorators and valuable sponsors. Event sponsors were The Ranch at Rock Creek, Blackfoot Telecommunications Group, NorthWestern Energy, Shirley Beck and Dale Siegford. Tree sponsors included Huffman Grocery, The Sunshine Station, The Broadway Hotel, Boheme Coffee Shop, The Philipsburg Mail, Angelo Cattle Company, Philipsburg Rotary Club, Discovery Ski Area, Snookies, Skyview Property Owners, Arrowstone Property Owners, Tri-County Tobacco Use Prevention Program, Rock Creek Land and Cattle Ranch LLC and The Philipsburg Brewing Company.

To contact the Granite County Medical Foundation about year-end giving, please write to GCMF at PO Box 401, Philipsburg, MT 59858 or donate using a credit card via PayPal at this link.

We are pleased to announce that the Festival of Trees will be a yearly fundraiser. To reserve your place as a 2015 events sponsor, tree sponsor or decorator, please email the Outreach Direction, Krista Johnson at info @

Hospital Foundation Set to Host Festival of Trees

View the Festival of Trees Invitation here or respond to the invite on Facebook. 

Published in The Philipsburg Mail, August 28, 2014

The Granite County Medical Foundation has been raising big money in its first few years of existence. “Thanks to our planning and organization we have won over $70,000 in grants for projects in the last year,” Foundation Chair Jodi Oberweiser told The Philipsburg Mail.

Philipsburg Festival of TreesThe monies have gone quickly and directly into healthcare all over the county, Oberweiser explained. “We had really terrific success and 90 percent of our income has come from grants which Caroline Reel wrote,” she said–noting that grant money paid for a second summer food program.

That program was cordinated by fellow board member Blaine Bradshaw, and it was expanded from Drummond to include Philipsburg this year. “It is free breakfast and free lunch for any child zero to 18 for eight weeks in the summer, and Blaine got additional donations to put on a barbecue on the last day. He grilled burgers, there were cupcakes and people brought salads,” Oberweiser said. The program was open to all incomes and adults who wished to participate could purchase meals for a nominal charge (less than five dollars).

The Foundation was also able to purchase new beds for the nursing home and continue its Well-Child Program, which provides health screenings to kids in Granite and Powell counties. “It’s totally free for the family. It’s a check up by a nurse and a doctor. Muriel Rammerman, Dr. Rich Molteni, Dr. Peggy Schlesinger, Ron Handlos, they all go to the schools one day a month and the children receive an exam. They see children in Helmville, Avon, Drummond, Hall, Philipsburg and Deer Lodge,” Oberweiser explained.

She said she was recruited to join the Foundation a few years ago by one of its founders. “It’s still a pretty young foundation–I think I came into it in its third year. Muriel Rammerman was the Chair when I joined the board. I believe she was instrumental in forming the Foundation along with Jenne Pugh and Dr. Rich Molteni. I was invited to join the board by Jenne, so we had some representation from the lower valley, and I have worked with Jenne when she was on Philipsburg’s library board. I think she’s great.”

For years, the Hospital and nursing home have reaped the benefits of the H & R (Hospital and Retirement home) store in Philipsburg where people donate clothing and household items, and the volunteer staff sells those items with proceeds going to the Granite County Medical Center (GCMC). The Foundation is not affiliated with H & R.

The Foundation was set up so that people would have a venue for lifelong giving or endowments whole. The Foundation is a 501(c)3 (non-profit) in the eyes of the IRS).

IMG_2937To raise awareness of the Foundation, the Foundation Board dipped its toe in a Festival of Trees. They purchased and decorated three Christmas trees and auctioned them off at a gala. “We did a live auction and raised a few hundred dollars. It was just exciting to see people caught up in the holidays. It’s nice that it takes place before Christmas and the holidays begin, so it gives people a chance to enjoy the company of their neighbors and friends who also support the Foundation,” Oberweiser recalled. “Last year was our first try and we hadn’t really planned much. We served wine and cupcakes and fudge and the trees were decorated by Ruth McDonald, Nichole Razor, Peggy Pahrman and Christina Colligan–they decorated trees and people came for the social and to talk about raising money for the Foundation projects.”

This year, the Foundation purchased 15 trees and Oberweiser is knocking on doors looking for people, businesses and organizations to sponsor the trees. She said that in lieu of sponsoring a tree with a cash donation, businesses can donate gift cards for a like amount or in-kind donations. “We have people who have volunteered to decorate, but a business can decorate it themselves, and anyone can volunteer to be a decorator. This project is really about building awareness of what the Foundation does for the entire county,” she said, “the Foundation wants to promote health in Granite County and I want both ends of the county to work together.”

The trees will be on display the week of the November 17 at the Talyor Knapp Building in Philipsburg and the auction and gala are slated for Saturday, November 22, 2014. “Everyone is invited,” Oberwieser said.


We’re proud to announce that our Vice Chair Dr. Richard Molteni has received the 2014 Abraham Jacobi Memorial Award. We are proud to work with Dr. Molteni, and, after reading this article, you will see why Dr. Molteni has been so instrumental in improving children’s health care in Granite County since he moved to Philipsburg. He continues to establish and assist with the Well Child Program in Granite and Powell Counties.


Local Doc Honored For Life of Service

Excerpted from The Philipsburg Mail article
Published Thursday, August 14, 2014

Dr. Richard Molteni devoted his life’s work to saving babies. The 2014 Abraham Jacobi Memorial Award is in recognition of that fact.

“This was a very big surprise. I had no idea some folks obviously nominated me,” Dr. Molteni told The Philipsburg Mail.

He and his wife Joyce live up on Rumsey Road where they built a home about 10 years ago, and the good doctor mostly retired from his work about five years ago. He found Philipsburg thanks to the Sundstrom boys, whom he grew up with in New Jersey.

He recalled, “I grew up in Jersey. I went to medical school in New Jersey and Joyce and I were married and left. So we went to the University of Colorado and I did my pediatric training there for three years. That was during Vietnam and we were all drafted, so I went to Fort Hood, Texas and spent two years there as a major in the medical corps. That’s when I decided to go into neonatology.”

He came out of the Army disillusioned with pediatric care, but his mentor suggested he explore research laboratories. The National Institute of Health had a research fellowship there and Dr. Molteni began research working on fetal sheet.

granite county medical foundation

Dr. Rich Molteni

“At the completion of that I took my first job at Johns Hopkins. I went with two friends from college, and we become Johns Hopkins first neonatologist unit. It became fascinating for me and it was a right at a time when neonatology was going from barely being able to keep a 5.5 lb. baby alive to four lbs. and then three. The science was exploding. I found I liked critical care much more than general pediatric care. It was the excitement, the constant challenge, and things were happening rapidly,” he said.

He went on to run the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit for Johns Hopkins, but eventually the mountains beckoned him back.

“I really wanted to go back west,” he said. So he went to work as the Vice Chairman of Pediatrics and the Director of Clinical Neonatology for the University of Utah. Eventually they moved to Seattle, where he retired as Senior Vice President and Medical Director of the Seattle Children’s Center and Associate Dean at University of Washington. These days he works part time domestically and internationally for the Joint Commission, which accredits hospitals. “I do it to keep connected. It’s just teaching and education,” he said.

The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Medical Association present one award each year together. It is given to a pediatrician who has given lifelong support and invested in the education and contribution of pediatric research.

Dr. Stuart Cohen serves on the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Board of Directors and was one of the Fellows who nominated Dr. Molteni. He said that Dr. Molteni’s work was groundbreaking.

Dr. Molteni, who was involved in the AMA, proved that procedures on infants and children, particularly cardio procedures came with their own level of difficulty and he helped in the writing of what is now a universally recognized coding of pediatric procedures.

Dr. Cohen said, “He’s a neonatologist, so he understood that discipline was an area completely misunderstood by the AMA, and he completely revamped the coding. Now we have all these neonatology global codes, covering all the procedures that would be performed, and they were accepted by the insurers. Because of this, Pediatrics is one of the few specialties that has thrived—and this is coding; it’s become the basis for many children’s hospitals because it becomes the preponderance of the revenue. A lot of that is due to the work that Dr. Molteni did. It’s very poorly understood in medicine, but he’s a pioneer. He’s laid the groundwork for future generations of future pediatricians.”


Granite and Powell County Well-Child Program

May 2014 marks the end of the first year of the Granite and Powell County Well-Child program. According to Physician Assistant and program lead Ron Handlos, the program was very successful.

Granite County Well Child Program“We were able to provide care to people who would not have gotten it otherwise because of cost or logistics.”

Year one of the program provided more than 50 free general physicals to children and youth. These monthly check-ups gave children regular contact with a provider. “With a consistent presence,” said Handlos, “we were able to detect early childhood problems so that they didn’t become issues later on, and refer children to specialists when it was needed.”

The well-child program began in November 2013, with providers traveling to schools in rural Granite and Powell counties. “We brought the service to the families,” said Handlos, “which removed a lot of the stress. At some locations, families would otherwise have had to travel 60-85 miles for care.”

Granite County well-child visits occurred the first Tuesday of the month in Drummond, Hall, and Philipsburg. Powell County visits took place the third Tuesday in Avon, Helmville, and Ovando.

In addition to Handlos, the provider team encompassed Registered Nurses, Muriel Ramerman and Katie Muhly; Public Health Nurse, Karyn Johnston; and Pediatricians Richard Molteni and Peggy Schlesinger.

Early on, the program grew to include school screenings because five of the six schools in the service area did not have a nurse on site. The team provided more than 100 scoliosis, vision, and hearing screenings to students.

“It’s a great program for kids in the community, especially with changes in socioeconomic status, so that they have easy access to healthcare,” said Drummond School Superintendant Bryan Kott.

As for the future of well-child, the program will be on hiatus in June and July. However, year two of the program begins in August, just before the start of school, for preschool physicals, immunizations, and sports assessments.

Program sponsors for year one of the program were the Chutney, Washington, and Granite County Medical foundations. Granite County Medical Center provided both financial and administrative support.

Bed Replacement Project Reaches Half-way Point

bed mechanics

The new Hill-Rom beds await their new home in the Granite County Long-Term Care Facility.

On March 19th, the Granite County Medical Center neared the halfway point of their Bed Replacement Project with the delivery and installation of 11 new hospital beds. The project is part of a yearlong effort by the Granite County Medical Center and Granite County Medical Foundation to replace 25 beds that have lost comfort and functionality. The old beds were donated to the Butte Rescue Mission, where they will continue to serve an important purpose.

Medical Center lead for the project, Sharon Fillbach, said, “It’s great when people work together to achieve a much needed goal and we look forward to completion by Christmas.”

bed install

Granite County Medical Center physical therapist helps with bed installation.

Hospital beds must be more dynamic than standard home models. Patients can spend up to 85 percent of their day in a bed, and nursing care often requires frequent adjustment of the platform. The previous beds were purchased over 25 years ago, and replacement parts were becoming almost impossible to locate. The project was proposed because many beds broke down, had to undergo expensive repairs and resulted in an increased hazard of falls.

In 2013, the new Hill-Rom-brand models were selected for their comfort, adaptability, maneuverability, lasting construction and sanitation. Every part of the beds can be cleaned and sanitized to prevent the spread of bacteria. The reputable company will be able to provide replacement parts far into the future.

The beds will also reduce stress on Medical Center staff to lift patients and provide better quality of life for the residents, swing-bed and acute care patients. Christine Johnson, a resident of the long-term care facility for the last 14 months, said, “I’m looking forward to a good night’s sleep. These beds are beautiful and comfortable. I think I’ll be getting to bed earlier.”

bed training

Granite County CNAs receive training on how to use the beds.

The Bed Replacement Project is being funded in partnership with the Granite County Medical Center and the Granite County Medical Foundation. The project was launched at the end of 2013, when the Foundation received $50,000 in grant money from a Montana foundation. In addition, the November 2013 Festival of Trees raised several thousand dollars in community donations toward this goal.

Granite County Medical Foundation Chair Jodi Oberweiser said, “The fact that three people who are living in the long-term care facility don’t have a new bed is motivation for the Foundation to increase fundraising efforts this year. We will apply for grants and encourage community involvement.”


Granite County Medical Center Long-Term Care resident Chris Johnson gets a check-up on one of the new beds.

Oberweiser added that the April 10 Charity Pint Night at the Philipsburg Brewing Company is going to be called “Beers for Beds,” with proceeds going toward the bed project. Also, the second annual Festival of Trees on November 22 will be focused on raising the remaining funds needed to bring the project to completion.

First-Ever Women’s Wellness Brunch a Success!

Maxville, Mont.  Saturday, February 22, 2014. The Boulder Creek Lodge welcomed almost 60 women to their first annual Granite County Women’s Wellness Brunch. The event, hosted by the Granite County Medical Center (GCMC) and the Granite County Medical Foundation (GCMF), aimed to educate women on preventive care and insurance options. Guests wore red in observance of American Heart Month and the “apple a day” theme. Brunch 1

While the Boulder Creek Lodge served a healthy four-course meal, Family Nurse Practitioner Ashley Westphal spoke about the top ten preventive health care services for women, many of which are now covered free by health insurance companies outside of deductible and premium costs. These included an annual well-woman exam; breast cancer mammography; cervical cancer screening; blood pressure tests; diet counseling; tobacco cessation programs; and type 2 diabetes, obesity, cholesterol and osteoporosis screenings. Next, physical therapist Peggy Jensen gave tips for back pain relief and finding low-cost fitness programs in Granite County.

brunch 2The keynote speaker, Karen Murphy of the Montana Health Co-Op, presented on the recent changes to the health insurance industry, updating attendees on important upcoming deadlines, such as the end of open enrollment on March 31st. She added that Montana’s three insurance companies are unlikely to offer enrollment after this period, and she urged people to meet with a certified application counselor by calling 406-859-6515 in the next month.

Granite County Medical Center Certified Nursing Assistant Melody Saxe finished the program with skin cancer prevention advice. The day ended with over 20 donated prizes being raffled off to the crowd. Attendee Barbara Anderson said, “It was an informative and delightful time, filled with friends, great food, info and resources, and fun. Much appreciated. I, for one hope this will be an annual event.”

To access information that was presented at this event visit The Granite County Medical Center provides many of the preventive services that were discussed, including pre-op testing, physical therapy, radiology and well-woman visits. It also staffs two Certified Application Counselors who are trained to provide free, unbiased assistance with enrolling in the Health Insurance Marketplace.

IMG_2129Sharon Fillbach, GCMC Purchasing Manager and GCMF Board Member said, “It was my hope for the women of the valley to receive a variety of useful information about total wellness, learning what is available in Granite County and reinforcing the fact that women have the “power” to make changes and feel good about themselves and their families. I think we more than accomplished this.”

View more photos on our Facebook page.
Review health tips here.

Foundation Sprouts New Christmas Tradition

by Michael Stafford
The Philipsburg Mail, November 28, 2013

The auction was small and the bidding didn’t take long to get through, but by the time they were finished selling the three decorated Christmas trees, the Granite County Medical Foundation had raised nearly $600 towards their hospital bed project for the Granite County Medical Center.

Philipsburg Festival of Trees“We hope that we have started a small but significant tradition,” said Jim Jenner, Foundation board member and emcee for the evening.

On Thursday, the Medical Foundaiton held their first Christmas party. They invited the public, offered hors d’oeuvres and libations and told the attendees a little bit about the Foundation’s successes over the past year and some of their goals in the future.

As the finale of the presentation, three decorated Christmas trees were auctioned off. Jenner said that he hopes in the future the Foundation can create a Festival of Trees which will grow in the coming years. “We want to update you a little bit and explain why we invited you here, said Jenner, starting out, “This is a wonderful turnout.” He explained to the crowd that the Foundation is a non-profit organisation, which allows it to apply for grants and work with endowments for the betterment of healthcare in the county.

Board member Ed Brunsvold read the mission statement to the crowd, explaining why the Foundation exists. “Provide support to the Hospital District and to improve the lives of our community residents and patients through philanthropic efforts,” read Brunsvold, “the Foundation’s fundraising efforts are intended to advance excellence in Granite County’s health care services and health education by providing financial support to maintain these critical services.”

IMG_2932“It’s interesting that we have a blend of people that make up the Foundation,” said Jenner. He explained to the crowd, that like a fire department, the Medical Center is a business that people want to have, especially the emergency room in case of an accident.

But the emergency room isn’t the only part of the hospital. “Very often we think of our hospital as that ER that’s there when you need it….too often rural healthcare suffers because folds take the rest of their medical needs to bigger markets,” said Jenner, “you have every right to do that, every right. But now more than ever, it’s important that we do whatever we can to support our clinics, our hospital and our wonderful rest home.”

Board Chair Jodi Oberweiser spoke to the crowd next and outlined some of the accomplishments the fledgling organisation has thus far achieved. “Our 2013 initiative included Granite COunty Medical Center generator repair, Granite County Dental Clinic equipment and you’ve no doubt seen the AED heart defibrillators in public places–this was spearheaded by Ed Brunsvoled, the Children’s Healthy Summer Meal Program was coordinated by Blaine Bradshaw, Mark Ransford worked to coordinate the Charity Pint Night, which was very festive and successful. Along with Ron, Muriel and Dan, Rich Molteni has been instrumental in starting a Well Child Program that will provide free healthcare to children in three school districts,” said Oberweiser.

IMG_2937“Jim Jenner, who serves on our Foundation, has helped as we’ve hosted numerous health education programs, including diabetes awareness, the affordable care act information program and outdoor safety education programs. You may have even seen some of the board members distributing sunscreen at some of the local events this summer, ” Continued Oberweiser. She said that through it all, so far the Foundation has awarded more than $50,000 in grants to Granite County.

Ron Handlos, explained to the crowd a little bit about the new Well Child Program, which has been made possible through two grants the Medical Foundation received. He said that the program provides screenings at five different elementary schools in two counties.

“The concept was we really don’t have any well child care in either Granite County or Powell County at all and we have a lot of people with a lot of children that need the care,” said Handlos. He said that along with the efforts of Muriel Rammerman and Rich Molteni, the program has had a successful start.

“The response has been unbelievable,” he said, “I didn’t think we would see as many children. I didn’t think it would have been as well received as it’s been.” He also told the crowd that with the exception of Philipsburg School, none of the other schools have a school nurse. The program has been able to fill those shoes.

IMG_2938“I’m really proud of what everyone is doing, and I’m proud to be a part of it,” said Molteni.

Jenner, as well as Oberweiser, then told the attendees about the program to replace the aged hospital beds at the medical facility. They explained that while they had received a donation of $50,000 to the project, there is still more funding that needs to be gathered to complete the project.

And as a way of helping to secure some of that funding, Jenner introduced the idea of a Festival of Trees event in which decorated Christmas trees would be auctioned off. The three that were on display were the vanguard of the potential future event and before the end of the presentation were auctioned off to the crowd. He said that Philipsburg Public Works Director John Vukonich used to provide hundreds of trees for similar events to benefit medical facilities in the Puget Sound area and has volunteered some of his efforts to expanding the new local event.

“We can’t thank you enough for making this a success,” said Jenner about the Foundation and the previous year.

 New Well Child Screening Program Off to a Healthy Start

by Michael Stafford, The Philipsburg Mail

Earlier this week the first Well Child clinic was conducted. It’s a new program for Granite and Powell Counties and one that Physician Assistant Ron Handlos said has been well received.

“I think it’s really going to be a great benefit to both counties,” he said.

Last week Handlos gave the Granite County Hopsital Board an update on the new program which he said was ready to be put into practice. The Well Child Program will conduct clinics at the schools throughout Granite COunty and the northern portion of Powell County. Those clinics will screen children for various indicators of problems for children ranging from development to dental, as well as handle immunisations in conjunction with the Public Health Nurse.

Well Child ProgramThe clinic is manned by Handlos, Dr. Rich Molteni and nurse Muriel Rammerman. Additionally helping out is Family Nurse Practitioner Ashley Westphal. The clinic will rotate through the different schools, including Philipsburg, Hall and Drummond in Granite County and Avon and Ovando in Powell County.

“I’m very excited because we will also be functioning as school nurse for Drummond and Hall, and we’ll help Jodi Dallaserra (school nurse) for Philipsburg. We’ll be acting as a school nurse for Avon, Helmville and Ovando,” said Handlos.

Handlos said the program will be provided free of charge tot he children and will save families travel from small towns into larger cities to receive some services.

Handlos also said that the program has been in contact with a number of medical providers and paediatricians in surrounding communities to enervate a good referral base. He also said that paediatricians that have children clients in the screening programs will be sent updates on what the screenings find and notified of any indicators of problems the youths may have.

Muriel Rammerman also noted that contrary to the discussion last meeting where it was indicated she may have to become a part-time employee of the hospital to receive malpractice insurance, that will not be the case. “I have obtained my own personal malpractice insurance,” she said.

The program is funded through two grants achieved by the Granite County Medical Foundation. Handlos said that he and others manning the program are retirees from healthcare, in part to avoid scheduling conflicts.

He expressed hope that the program will be re-granted in the future and will continue for years to come with others eventually filling the shoes of the grownup which is starting it. “I hope this is a system that will last forever,” he said.

Hospital Foundation to Fill Tummies

by Michael Stafford
Philipsburg Mail, May 30, 2013

If the program is successful this summer, the hope is for the Drummond School to take it over and continue it in the future. And while it may be a little slow at first, Blaine Bradshaw said he believes it will soon take off and provide meals to 30 to 35 children daily.

Kids help serve healthy meals

Kids help serve healthy meals

“I think it’ll be successful,” said Bradshaw, “the program is being done in quite a few different places around the state.”

Bradshaw is a member of the Granite County Medical Foundation which is sponsoring a program this summer to provide free meals to children. He explained to The Philipsburg Mail that the idea was brought up to the Foundation and the program fit into one of the goals of the organisation.

“One of the missions of the Foundation is health and health education,” said Bradshaw. According to Bradshaw, the program will be in cooperation with the Montana Office of Public Instruction (OPI) and will be funded through a $500 grant from NorthWestern Energy. He explained it will provide the opportunity for those up to age 18 to receive a free breakfast and lunch daily Monday through Friday, as well as meals to adults for a minimal cost. He said that those who wish to receive breakfast will not be asked for registration or application of qualification. “No registration, no questions,” he said.

Bradshaw explained that in order to put the program into motion in conjunction with OPI, the amount of students in the Elementary School who qualify for the free or reduced lunch program has to exceed 50 percent. That percentage is in excess of 50 percent in Drummond, allowing OPI to help put the program in place and reimburse the Foundation for the cost of the meals. Bradshaw also noted the Foundation has applied for a number of grants to help out with the cost as well. “We’re still waiting on a couple,” he said.

DSC_0127While OPI administers the program, Bradshaw said the Foundation is sponsoring the program on the local level by helping to put it together as well as funding a portion of it. He also said that a number of volunteers from the Drummond area will be helping.

“There will be lots of volunteer help (such as Linda Smith and others) and a Vista volunteer, Jasara Rosendahl (MSU, 2013, Community Health) will be the site supervisor,” Bradshaw stated.

According to the information he provided, the program will run from June 10 through August 2 and the meals will be served at the Masonic Lodge in Drummond, located at 119 East Broad Street. While meals are free to children, adults will be assessed a fee of $2 for breakfast and $3.50 for lunch.

“This is a great location and the Masons were kind enough to let us use their facilities for the program,” said Bradshaw. He said the volunteers as well as the Foundation are looking forward to the program and excited to be a part of it. He said that while it may start off slow, like programs in other areas of the state, he hopes it will soon grow.


Foundation Installs Shocking Devices

by Michael Stafford
The Philipsburg Mail, January 2013

According to Ed Brunsvold, unless the machines read a certain heart pattern for someone who may be suffering from cardiac arrest, they won’t administer a shock. “It’ll only administer a shock if it’s necessary,” he said, “it’s very safe that way.”

Brunsvold is the secretary for the Granite County Medical Foundation and explained to The Philipsburg Mail that recently the organisation has purchased two Automated Electronic Defibrillators (AED), one for Philipsburg and one for Drummond.

“One of our initial projects has been to help enhance emergency medical services (EMS) in the county,” he said, “one of the ways to do that is to make AED more available in places where people gather.” Brunsvold explained that in the case that a person suffers from cardiac arrest it is important to administer a shock to the individual via defibrillation as soon as possible. Over the past 20 years the popularity of small AED machines has increased and their presence in public locations has become more noticeable.

AED PhotoBrunsvold explained that in looking to improve EMS in the county, they began looking to obtain and place AED in various locations. Georgetown Lake resident Rex Young works in selling medical equipment and helped the Foundation locate two refurbished AEDs, which cost far less than the going rate of $2,000 apiece. “He really gave us a good deal,” said Brunsvold.

With the two AEDs in their possession, the Foundation began looking for places to put them; public places centrally located where they will be available the majority of the time. One such place that came up as an idea was a bar.

Brunsvold explained that due to the central location of such establishments, their long hours and the safety mechanisms of the machines which prevent them from being used improperly, the idea took hold.

According to Brunsvold, the AEDs are designed with safety and on the spot training in mind. He explained that once activated the devices walk the user through simple steps of how to use the machine regardless of if they have ever used one before or not. “You don’t need any training,” he said.

He explained that when the patches of the machine are placed on the chest of a potential heart attack victim, the machine will read the heart rate of the person. Upon determining the rate is one that characterises cardiac arrest, the machine will grant the user the ability to administer a shock. He said that if the machine does not detect signs of a heart attack and the person is unconscious for any other reason, the machine will not allow a shock to take place.

The Foundation started by approaching Club Bar owners Jon and Debbie Carlson to see if they would be interested in housing the Philipsburg AED at their establishment. “Jon and Debbie have been enthusiastic about having the AED in their establishment,” he said. And according to Debbie Carlson, the couple is pleased to have it at the Club Bar.

She explained to The Philipsburg Mail that in the past when they were in the dental equipment business they would also sell AED to dental offices. “Very, very supportive of it,” said Carlson about placing AED in establishments around the county, “We’ve had a real good response with it, and we’re just glad to have it here.”

Brunsvold explained that the second AED will be placed in an establishment in Drummond. He said a location has not yet been determined where the device will be housed, but expressed hope the Foundation would find a business in the town willing to help out. “We haven’t got the final word on the location yet,” he said.

Brunsvold emphasised that the Foundation is county-wide and its focus is on all areas of the county, not just Philipsburg. He said that as the Foundation obtains more AEDs, they plan to locate them in different areas around the county. “We’d like to have more in other businesses,” he said.

He expressed hope that a federal grant which is proposed to be available in the next year or two may be pursued by the Foundation to obtain more AEDs.

Additional fundraising efforts have been a Pint Night at the Philipsburg Brewing Company, a fundraising letter sent out in the fall and planned giving. He said that amounts have been contributed from all areas in the county and some communities outside of Granite County.

“We had similar support in number of donations and dollar amounts from the Drummond and Philipsburg areas, ” he told The Mail in regards to the letter sent last fall, “We also received donations from the Georgetown Lake area, as well as Helmville and even Anaconda.”

According to Brunsvold, the Granite County Medical Foundation is a 501©3 non-profit and is a fundraising organisation. He said that it operates independently from the Granite County Medical Center, but that establishment is a focus for the efforts of the Foundation.

According to the Foundation’s website, its funds are for augmenting GCMC initiatives, funding healthcare education for citizens or providers and funding major capitol improvement projects.

“Our mission as the Foundation of the Granite County Hospital District is to improve the lives of our community residents and patients through philanthropic efforts. The Foundation’s fundraising efforts are intended to advance excellence in Granite County’s healthcare services and health education by providing financial support to maintain these critical services.”


Back Up Generator is Back in Running Condition at GCMC

by Michael Stafford
The Philipsburg Mail, November, 2012

The back-up generator for the Granite COunty Medical Center (GCMC) has been fixed and is ready in case a power outage strikes.

“It’s working great,” said Jim Waldbillig, a member of the Granite County Hospital District.

Waldbillig was assigned by the board to look into repairs necessary to get the generator working again and reported last year to the board that the issue with the back-up generator at the facility is that it had a bad head, which is a part of the engine. At the board meeting in September he said that the problem caused the generator to blow a head gasket when it was fired up and load was put on it.

Granite County Medical CenterHe told The Philipsburg Mail last week that the problem was fixed by removing the head and replacing it with a reconditioned head. “We did get it fixed and we are off the rental generator,” he said.

According to earlier discussions by the hospital board, a survey by the state of the hospital revealed the problem with the back-up generator. The issued required immediate resolution and quick work was made on the part of Waldbillig and staff at the facility to procure and hook up a portable back-up generator to satisfy the state’s requirement. The cost of the rental generator to the facility was $1,815 per month. “So that problem was immediately abated the day it was noted,” said former GCMC interim CEO Joel Lankford at the September board meeting, “in four hours the load test was done so we were done pretty quickly.”

While the portable generator satisfied the need of the hospital, the board agreed that without the funding of a grant, the facility received from FEMA for the purchase of a new generator, the old one would need to be fixed.

“I think that the repair went well and it was a little pricey, but we definitely got it fixed,” Waldbilling said.

The repair to the machine cost about $6,000 and the bill was footed by the Granite County Hospital Foundation. In October, the Foundation made the commitment to the facility to pay for the necessary repairs to the backup generator.


Foundation Boosts Local Healthcare

by Michael Stafford, The Philipsburg Mail, October 2012

Last Thursday marked the first event for the Granite County Medical FOundation on their path to becoming a helpful resource to the medical facilities and the people of Granite County.

Charity Pint NightAt the Pint Night sponsored by the Philipsburg Brewery, the organisation brought in over $600, which they plan to give to the medical facility to help defray the cost of repairs to the back-up generator.

“That’s really essential to providing emergency service,” said Oberweiser. Oberweiser explained that the Foudnation handles endowments and planned donations and uses those funds for a variety of projects to bring improved healthcare and services to the County.

“This was really our first event,” said Jodi Oberweiser, Chair of the Foundation board. “I am really pleased with the turnout.” She said that the Foundation is a relatively new organisation that is still working on forming itself and helping out.

Philipsburg Brewing Company“It’s important that people know that the Foundation works in tandem with H & R Thrift,” said Oberweiser, “the Foundation supports different aspects of healthcare in the lower and upper valleys.”

She explained that through working with the Smiths at the Brewery, the Foundation was invited to be the recipient of the Wednesday evening Pint NIght where one dollar from every glass of beer sold goes to a selected organisation or effort.

“On behalf of the Granite County Medical Foundation, I would like to thank the folks of Granite County for supporting our Pint Night at the Philipsburg Brewing Company last Thursday,” wrote board treasurer Mark Ransford. “We raised $607.16. This money is earmarked for repairing the back-up generator. Special thanks to Cathy and Nolan Smith for sponsoring this very successful affair. A good time was had by all.”

Oberweiser told The Philipsburg Mail that last year the organisation was able to achieve its 501©3 status as a non-profit and donations to the Foundation are now tax-deductible. As the organisation begins to mature and find its place IMG_1454in the county, the Foundation has begun to pursue some projects to improve local healthcare. One project which the Foundation has already begun is the placement of Automated Electronic Defibrillators (AED) in the towns of Drummond and Philipsburg. Both she and Ransford said two of the devices have been ordered and will be installed at a downtown location with easy access.

Oberweiser added that the Foundation is also looking at providing training to residents on how to use the devices should an emergency occur. She said that the machines can be very valuable to possibly saving a person’s life by providing treatment more immediate than an ambulance.

Another project the Foundation has ongoing is a fund for emergency travel to St. Patrick’s hospital in Missoula. Oberweiser said that the fund exists to provide money to those who must accompany an individual to the hospital and must stay overnight in the town. The funds are also available to a patient that requires emergency transportation to Missoula.

Philipsburg Brewing Company Charity Pint NightA third project the Foundation is working on is to bring diabetic education to Granite County.

The Chair said that the Foundation is brainstorming some ideas for future fundraisers in order to raise money to better supply the area with medical needs. She said that the Foundation also accepts direct donations, which are tax-deductible, and recommended anyone considering donating speak with a tax advisor.