Dear MHCF partners,
I’ve been out of the country for the past two weeks: in the interim, the COVID-19 crisis has changed our lives. Each day we learn more about the health and economic consequences for our families, loved ones, and communities. As we navigate this public health crisis together, I want you to know that our commitment to the health of Montanans has never been stronger. As always, we can only do this work in partnership with you.
Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to help us understand the impact on your organization and the communities you serve. We are still learning about how we can be most effective. We are building our response guided by two principles:
- Stability and consistency: Our work on behavioral health, American Indian health, and our other initiatives are more important than ever during this crisis. We will continue making investments and supporting our partner’s work in these areas.
- A strategic response to COVID-19: MHCF’s annual budget amounts to only a tiny fraction of the total cost of health care and public health in Montana—far less than 1%. We will leverage our funds and expertise to help partners take full advantage of state and federal opportunities that are quickly emerging in response to COVID-19. For example, we can help partners apply for grants, identify and access emergency funds, and offer technical assistance on implementing new regulations such as those that allow broader use of telehealth services.
Here’s a snapshot of what we are doing right now to support our partners and Montana communities.
- We gave a $500,000 grant to the MT DPHHS Public Health and Safety Division to strengthen local and tribal public health departments. Public health is the backbone of the COVID-19 response, and we’re working with DPHHS to look at how these funds can help local and tribal public health departments build capacity to respond effectively.
- We are ready to help organizations apply for federal funding as it becomes available. If this is something you are interested in, please contact us.
- We are working with tribal, behavioral health, and rural health care partners to provide technical assistance on implementing new state and federal health care regulations. This work is still in progress, and we will keep you updated as it evolves.
- We are offering our grantees flexible reporting deadlines, no-cost grant extensions, and regular funding schedules. Despite the crisis, our grantees are working tirelessly to provide essential services to our communities. We are working with each of them to adapt to their current needs.
Our staff will continue to work remotely for the foreseeable future. We are still easy to get a hold of, just call us at 406-451-7060 or email us at [email protected].
Thank you for all you’re doing to support Montanans during this unprecedented time. We are in this together.
Dr. Aaron Wernham, CEO