The same day that Partnership Health Center secured a $275,000 loan through the city of Missoula for its new location on Railroad Street, Executive Director Kim Mansch announced that the building constituted an expansion—not just a move—for the low-cost health care facility.
"We're bursting at the seams, and we have many more that need the service," explains Mansch of the decision to operate out of the new location as well as the existing clinic at 323 W. Alder Street.
Missoula's City Council approved the $275,000 loan Jan. 10. With additional funding from numerous other revenue sources, Partnership is in the process of purchasing the Creamery Building property for $3.625 million. The clinic's been in the space since November.
"Partnership Health Center should absolutely not be necessary," said City Councilman Ed Childers after voting for the loan. "Instead of that, the Partnership Health Center in Missoula is essential."
The clinic served 12,000 patients last year, up from 10,000 the year prior. Even with the increased numbers, Mansch estimates nearly 30,000 area residents who qualify for the clinic's services went without health care last year.
"We want to reach out to those people," she says.
The Creamery Building purchase triples Partnership's existing space. Partnership originally aimed to sell its existing clinic after purchasing the 23,000-square-foot Creamery Building, but with demand on the rise—200 new requests for treatment come in every week—Mansch says the Alder Street location will continue to offer primary care services.
In turn, Partnership staffers are now hoping to ensure steady funding for patients and, so far, their efforts are working. In addition to expanding high-demand dental services, the clinic recently snagged grants to grow its mental health, HIV and pharmacy coverage. The clinic is also teaming up with the state to hire a caseworker to help deliver preventative care to people with chronic illness in an effort to curtail costly emergency visits down the line.
"It's a huge group effort," Mansch says, adding that there's no sign of demand letting up.
"The need for health care," she says, "just is skyrocketing."