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Flathead Community College's Clinic Is A First

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This year's school bell marked a milestone for Flathead Valley Community College.

It is the first community college in Montana to open a health clinic for its students.

"I'll suture lacerations if need be. I will remove ingrown toe nails--all the exciting stuff," said Shelley Naomi, a physicians assistant at the clinic. She moved from Cheyenne because of her husband's job, just in time to help open the College's student health clinic.

"I'm really grateful to be able to provide services to people who maybe wouldn't seek out care because they just couldn't afford it," said Naomi.

With the help of an anonymous $50,000 donation that will be given again each year over the next five years, and the $45 per semester charge required of all students with seven credit hours or more, the clinic is self-sustaining. In its fifth day of operation, the clinic is still pretty quiet, but of the patients Naomi has seen so far all have been uninsured.

"It's going to take a while for the culture to understand what this means," explained Chuck Jensen, the Vice President of Administration and Finance at the College, "that there is a clinic available and so we continue to do PR on a daily basis, getting the word out to students that this is available."

Currently, the clinic is only open part-time: Wednesday and Monday from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. and then on Thursday between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Servicing nearly two thousand students, though soon that may change.

"I'm curious to see how soon hours will expand," said Naomi, "It's a lot of unknowns right now, but I think that it's exciting."

Only three staff the clinic in the Broussard Center for Nursing, but that too could change if the demand is great enough.

While students with seven credit hours or more must pay for the clinic's services, students enrolled with four to six credit hours may choose whether to opt-in.

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