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Alluvion Health Foundation secures grant for mobile autism clinic

Alluvion Mobile Clinic.png
Posted at 6:08 PM, Jun 07, 2024

GREAT FALLS — Thanks to a sizable grant from Montana’s largest health insurer, the Alluvion Health Foundation has taken another step towards establishing a state-of-the-art mobile autism clinic.

A $50 thousand grant from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Montana promises to be a driving force in helping Alluvion Health secure a mobile autism clinic, similar to Alluvion’s current mobile health clinic.

“The idea is to bring and reduce the waiting times and the need for autism, therapeutic services and then eventually diagnostic services,” said Alluvion Health Foundation Executive Director Teresa Schreiner.

In a press release, the Alluvion Health Foundation says by eliminating a two-year wait list for services and reducing the annual cost of care by about $60 thousand, the mobile clinic will have a profound impact on children and families in under-served areas of North Central Montana.

Obtaining the highly competitive grant puts Alluvion at about 70% of its goal with about $90 thousand left to raise for a service Schreiner says is desperately needed.

“About one in 36 children are diagnosed with autism nationally, and they believe that that number is largely under representative of what's really out there,” said Schreiner. “And that's really due to lack of access to services and diagnosis.”

In Montana, the only place to get diagnosed is Billings and Missoula with about a two-year wait list for access.

“Once people are diagnosed, there's another one year wait list for services for those particular therapies that children need,” said Schreiner. “So early intervention just helps cut down on those wait times and leads to better developmental outcomes.”

The grant is part of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Montana’sBig Blue Sky Initiative program which has awarded more than $2 million since 2014. In a statement the organization said, “Health care is deeply personal, and inherently local. In a state where rural members often travel long distances for care, Alluvion stands out for its ability to reach Montanans where they need it.”

Initially the mobile autism clinic will address immediate needs in the Alluvion service area where they do primary care before hitting the road.

“The nice thing about having a clinic about this size is we can pull into people's houses, pull right up to the house and offer treatment and therapies on our clinics,” said Schreiner.