Great Falls VA clinic hosts grand opening of new facility

GREAT FALLS — The new Great Falls Veterans Affairs clinic hosted a grand opening Friday morning with a ceremony dedicated to veterans and clinic staff. The event, which was open to vets and the public, had remarks from Montana VA Health Care System representatives, as well as Governor Steve Bullock, U.S. Senators Steve Daines and Jon Tester, and Clarence Sivertsen, the vice chairman of the Little Shell Chippewa Tribe.

Small groups were offered tours to see the new facility, which is the first in the Montana VA system to implement the Patient Aligned Care Team (PACT) model.

“Now we have a facility that’s worthy of our veteran service here in Great Falls, Montana,” said Tester, ranking member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee. Now, it’s going to be up to us to make sure that the facility meets the needs of our veterans in north central Montana, and care continues to be of the highest quality.

Veterans who used the old the clinic were impressed with their first look. “This hospital here’s a lot nicer than the old one because it was just old,” U.S. Air Force veteran John Spriggs said. “It’s beautiful. It’s amazing how good it looks inside.”

The new space is all on one floor, and effectively doubles the capacity of the old one across town. With the new model, vets no longer have to move around the building to get their care. Instead, comprehensive care teams come to one room for the veteran.

“This new clinic, man, it’s nice. It’s got all the stuff that the staff needs got up to date stuff,” said U.S. Navy veteran Kim Kay McCarty Martin. “You don’t have to go to another room to find your equipment. I’m sure the staff will love it. I know us veterans will, because we don’t have to go anywhere. We go to one room and we get to stay there.”

In addition to PACT teams, the clinic offers telehealth, laboratory, and home-based care within 100 driving minutes of Great Falls, among many other services.

“The biggest one, as a female veteran, is they have two exam rooms specifically for women. They’ve never had that before,” McCarty Martin said. “They don’t even have that at Fort Harrison. So this is a big step for women veterans.”