Three Rivers signs letter of intent to partner with Billings Clinic

By: 
Tammy Keele

Tadd Greenfield, CEO of Three Rivers Health (formerly South Big Horn County Hospital), confirmed during the Sept. 23  board meeting that the facility has presented Billings Clinic with a letter of intent to begin exploring a partnership with the large Montana hospital. 

According to a Sept. 23 press release by Billings Clinic, if Three Rivers Health does in fact sign on to be an affiliate, it will join Powell Valley Healthcare and Lovell’s North Big Horn Hospital among the 15 rural hospitals that currently partner with Billings Clinic.

During an interview with Greenfield, the CEO stressed that the move to become an affiliate was considered with due diligence for a period just short of a year. He stated that several facilities were looked at and Billing Clinic’s commitment to rural health along with its quality reputation were major reasons why Three Rivers Health chose to go with them.

When asked why the hospital decided to move forward with a partnership in the first place Greenfield stated it was to “enhance existing services and expand services we do not have now."  Services Greenfield hopes the partnership will help to provide in the future include telehealth, pediatrics, and oncology along with others. He hopes the affiliation with Billings Clinic will have a positive impact and help meet the needs of the community.

The partnership will not come without a price tag. One of the major advantages to the Billings Clinic affiliation is the ability for electronic communication and sharing of medical records, imaging, and labs. According to Greenfield the current electronic medical record system is not compatible with the “robust” Cerner program Billings Clinic uses. The good news is that Three Rivers Health was coming due to upgrade their electronic medical record system that is no longer supported within the next 24 months. Therefore, the upgrade will not be an added expense but is a cost that was inevitable regardless if a partnership is on the horizon.  

Per Greenfield, now that a letter of intent has been submitted, a collaboration  committee (comprised of two to three Billings Clinic representatives, Three Rivers Health administrators and the hospital board) will work together over the next three to four months to hammer out the details of the affiliation agreement. 

Greenfield said the community can possibly expect to start seeing new clinics in as early as four to five months.