Posted: Apr 18, 2013 12:25 PM by Dennis Bragg - MTN News
HOT SPRINGS - Montana residents are well-known for their "can-do" attitude. But even in the Treasure State, the prospect of raising hundreds of thousands of dollars to build a new small town medical clinic seemed like an impossible undertaking.
But as Dennis Bragg reports, Hot Springs has a sparkling new Family Medicine Clinic precisely because people believed in a dream enough to make it realty.
Eight years ago the Eastern Sanders County Hospital District had a major problem. How to keep providing basic medical services in Hot Springs with a crumbling clinic. But today, the solution to that problem stands proudly in the middle of downtown after an epic fund drive.
"It had been just absolutely amazing. This little town, with so much poverty, there just didn't seem to be a way," observed Sharon Flesch, a member of the Hot Springs Clinic fundraising committee.
The key was an innovation to raise money, the "Tired Iron" campaign, where people collected some 34 tons of old scrap metal and converted it to cash, an idea that caught the imagination of people across the United States.
"Everyone that we talked to, who donated to this, said this is got to happen. This little community can't sit there without healthcare," Flesch said.
Some long-time residents produced checks for $50,000, while others donated what they could. Businesses from as far away as Troy even pitched in to help.
Now, the clinic is finished, with rooms for exams and other basic procedures, as well as physical therapy, all set off with local art and a home town feel.
"They are just delighted. Some people just can't believe that this is really in Hot Springs," RN Paula Stobie told us.
"In today's world, to have a 9-hundred thousand dollar project done and paid for is pretty amazing," Flesch added.
"It's like a touchstone in the community. It's beautiful. And it's modern. And the community did it. And that's the big thing is that they really got behind us and made this clinic possible," said Stobie.
While in this day and age it seems like the popular thing to do is to complain about a lack of government money, in Hot Springs residents have discovered that using good old ingenuity and caring is the way to make miracles happen.
The hospital district owns the building, and Clark Fork Valley Hospital then leases the space, providing the equipment and staff for the clinic.