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The new Caring Foundation of MontanaSM expands access to preventive health services.

Montana truly is the "last best place." The big sky, wide open spaces and mountains are a few of the many reasons our state is a treasured place to live.

This geography also presents challenges. Access to preventive health care can be a struggle for rural Montanans.

We recognize that having to travel long distances to see doctors and other factors related to where people live can affect their health and well-being.

That's why the Caring Foundation of Montana is working to effectively shrink our state and bring health care services directly to those who need it.

The Caring Foundation was formed in 2018 with the goal of improving access to care and health outcomes for all Montanans through the popular Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana Care Van® program. Each dollar raised by the foundation will go directly toward providing access to preventive health services through the Care Van program.

"The foundation benefits all Montanans in many different ways," said Jamey Petersen, executive director of the Caring Foundation of Montana. "The Care Van helps break down barriers by bringing services into communities, as well as covering most or all out-of-pocket expenses for basic preventive health services."

In less than a year, the Caring Foundation is already making a positive impact.

While the Care Van program started with a focus on immunizations, the Caring Foundation was able to expand its scope.

The Care Van's services now include dental screenings, vision screenings, A1C screenings, Hepatitis C testing and diabetic retinopathy screenings. In 2018 alone, the Care Van reached more than 5,000 Montanans at more than 150 clinics. Immunizations were still at the forefront, with more than 5,000 immunizations given.

Since launching the program in late 2014, the Care Van has traveled more than 70,000 miles to deliver more than 14,000 vaccinations and health screenings in 37 Montana counties and four reservations.

With the help of partnerships and sponsorships, the services are provided regardless of insurance coverage or the ability to pay.

The Caring Foundation is also helping connect Montanans to resources the Care Van can't deliver.

The foundation has partnered with state, county and local public health providers. With these relationships, the foundation can direct people to sources of care they didn’t realize were available in their communities.

There is still a lot of work to do to ensure access to these vital services across Montana. The Caring Foundation of Montana, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana and the Care Van program are excited to continue serving Montana to help the Big Sky thrive.

For more information, please visit The Caring Foundation of Montana today.

Video Transcript

Video Transcript

Montana Care Van Program

KAMILLE KIRCHBERG: The Care Van program started back in 2014 as a way for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana to give back to the communities. At first, we had a goal of 2,000 immunizations in the first three years. And we exceeded that within our first year. We've now provided over 11,000 immunizations. And we've expanded our services from not only immunizations but health screenings, A1c testing, blood pressure testing. We've partnered with other programs to provide basic dental services, sports physicals. We've really expanded our program in just the three years that it's been up and running.

The focus of the Care Van is on rural and underserved populations. So because the Van is mobile, we can go wherever the need is. The Van has traveled over 60,000 miles. We've reached 36 of the 56 counties in Montana. On average, the Van travels 15 to 20,000 miles a year. We've seen such a high demand of the Care Van services. So we really know that we're on the right path and what we're doing. And currently, we're really building infrastructure so that in the years to come, we can expand our services. I'm so excited for the future to keep supporting Montanans and giving back to our communities.