The Montana Department of Labor and Industry has honored Missoula’s Partnership Health Center as the best large employer in the state of Montana.

We spoke with Partnership Health Center’s Communications Director Eric Halverson on Monday for his reaction to the prestigious award targeted at businesses with more than 150 employees.

“We were thrilled to hear about this award,” began Halverson. “It's been a major focus of our work for an extended period of time to make sure that our staff is supported as well as anyone in our organization. We have five pillars on our strategic plan and one of them is Joy at Work, there are several initiatives underneath that, and they’re all targeted at making sure that our staff feels supported, not only as people but also as employees.”

Halverson said one area of concern for management at the Partnership Health Center was the struggle to find quality child care for their employees.

“We heard loud and clear during the pandemic that one of the biggest barriers folks were facing was this new and very increased need for childcare,” he said. “With people being held out of work for this reason or that or with childcare places shutting down everybody was looking to sort of plug that gap and, and continue their ability to show up here at Partnership Health Center, and deliver care to the community during one of the greatest health care crisis crises of our time.”

Halverson said PHC was able to help fund childcare for their employees, one of the reasons they were chosen as the best large employer in the state.

Halverson said the PHC operates with both grants and traditional health insurance so that their patients can receive affordable health care.

“We’re supported on the national level by a federal grant but we're also able to bill for a variety of services, so we bill Medicaid and Medicare and private insurance,” he said. “Everybody is welcome at Partnership Health Center whether or not you have spectacular private insurance, or any other level of coverage, including no coverage at all. So we're able to fund through the billing of our services but also through a variety of grants, including the large federal grant that comes from the Bureau of Primary Health Care.”

Halverson said the health care provided by the PHC extends beyond the walls of the facility.

“We also understand that creating a strong healthy community can't be done within the walls of a clinic all by itself, which is why we have things like the Community Care Team which delivers mobile medical support out there at the Authorized Camping Site,” he said. “It's why we opened the clinic inside the Missoula Food Bank and Community Center and why we have a standing clinic inside the Poverello Center.”

Partnership Health Care consists of more than 267 employees working at seven different locations in Missoula and Seeley Lake.

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