The Roundup -

Local Healthcare Services Expand To Better Serve The Community


The waiting and reception area at the newly remodeled River Valley Clinic.

In a community that has seen rapid growth and many changes, it is no surprise that the medical community has spent considerable time and energy to grow and change along with it. Over the past year, two free-standing clinics have opened their doors in Sidney and the Sidney Health Center (SHC) has implemented Epic, a new system in which to better serve its patients and safely and effectively exchange information among providers.

The River Valley Clinic located at 813 S. Central Ave in Sidney officially opened its doors in the fall of 2012 with physician assistant Bert E. Lepel providing workforce health care services and expanded its services to include family practice in February of 2014.

Lepel grew up in the area, graduating from Lustre, MT and completed his undergraduate and physician assistant training with degrees from Bob Jones University in Greenville, SC, Trevecca Nazarene College in Nashville, TN and the University of Nebraska in Omaha. He's been practicing for 23 years serving Montana and North Dakota. Lepel worked fourteen years at Culbertson in the clinic, hospital, emergency room, and nursing home.

Lepel works under the supervision of Dr. Trevino, MD at the Sidney Health Center and Dr. L. Jaszczak, MD of Fairlight Medical Center in Williston, ND and utilizes both facilities for imaging, blood work and specialized care. Lepel says that the medical community has been very receptive and positive to the clinic opening and expanding their services.

"We want to be a help to the medical community and improve accessibility," said Lepel. "We want to help meet the need."

Lepel initially began workforce health services at the SHC but due to limited space, made the decision to open the independent clinic to continue to meet the medical needs of the community. Renovations began in November of 2012 and were completed by the spring of 2013 and include two handicap accessible bathrooms, a lab area, two exam rooms, an office, reception and waiting area. Mavirda Lepel, Bert Lepel's wife, works as the receptionist and office manager and Karen Sutton works as a medical assistant.

Patients can usually get in for an appointment within two days and while it is not a walk-in clinic, walk-ins can be seen if scheduling allows. The River Valley Clinic is open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 8:00 am to 3:30 pm and takes many types of insurance including Medicare, Blue Cross Blue Shield and those in the Multi-plan Network. Patients of all ages are seen and services offered include wellness checkups, diagnosis and treatment of illnesses and injuries, the monitoring and treatment of chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes and asthma. Workforce services are still offered including DOT and non-DOT physicals, worker's compensation injury care, specialized vision screening, strength and agility testing, and spirometry pulmonary function testing. Appointments can be scheduled by calling 406-433-7300.

The second independent clinic to open in 2014 is the Esprit Health Clinic located at 309 S Central Ave in Sidney with Family Nurse Practitioner Michelle Frank seeing patients as of December 1st. Frank grew up in Richland County graduating high school from Fairview, MT in 1993. Frank graduated from the University of Mary in Bismarck, ND and has been a Registered Nurse since 2006. She received her Master of Science in Nursing in May of 2014 and has worked in the medical field for twenty years including working at SHC.

"It's been a fantastic experience," Frank comments of her opening the clinic. "My goal is to provide a unique, personalized health care experience and help with the demands due to the rapid population growth. We jumped in at the right time and are utilizing Elation for our electronic health records. The community has been very supportive as have area physicians and other nurse practitioners."

The buy-sell agreement was signed in June of this year and renovations began in September; the clinic has four patient exam rooms, two offices, a lab area as well as remodeled bathrooms and reception and waiting area. The Anova Family Health Center out of Watford City has served as Frank's mentor clinic. She explains that Nurse Practitioners have a fully independent scope of practice in 21 states including Montana and North Dakota.

The clinic offers primary care services such as comprehensive physical exams, DOT physicals, sports physicals, pre-employment physicals, well-baby and well-child check-ups, annual wellness visits focusing on health promotion and disease prevention, diagnosis and treatment of acute and chronic illnesses. The clinic utilizes the Sidney Health Center for diagnostics and specialty care. In the future, Frank is looking to add therapeutic and cosmetic Botox services. Additional staff include Tana Trudell and Nicki Bell, receptionists, Kelly Alvstad, office manager/billing specialist and Kaci Dean, RN; sick-visits can generally get in within one to two days, while wellness appointments can be seen within a week. Same-day appointments are accommodated according to availability and the clinic accepts most types of private insurance, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Healthy Montana Kids and Medicare. Esprit Health Clinic is open Monday through Friday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm and closed from noon to 1:00 pm for lunch. To schedule an appointment call 406-488-5000 or go online to learn more at

Frank notes, "My favorite part about my work is being able to serve the community and be a part of people's lives. I enjoy helping people work to achieve their best state of health and well-being."

Encouraging patients to become more involved in their personal health care and wellness is a priority to the medical community whether as an independent clinic or an urgent care facility. Epic, a system implemented at the Sidney Health Center, does just that, helping individuals manage their health care and make the official transition into electronic health records.

Richard Haraldson, Sidney Health center CEO and Rita Steinbeisser, Marketing and Communications Director, explain that government regulation require all health care facilities to make the switch to electronic health records and offered incentives such as reimbursements to hospitals that took initiative to make the change before 2015. After much study and deliberation, the decision was made to implement the Epic system via Sanford Health. Epic is one of the three largest systems nationwide and Sanford Health served as a provider of Epic, implementing the system into SHC as well as providing training to SHC employees and dealing with technical issues. Sanford Health was chosen because of their expertise and excellent success rate, at the time having already transitioned 25 other critical access hospitals, SHC was the first hospital in Montana affiliated with the upper mid-west company. While Sanford Health has various levels of involvement with different hospitals, SHC is an affiliate of Sanford Health utilizing their IT services but still operating as an independent hospital.

"Keeping healthcare local is a priority for us because we know our community and its needs better than a large corporation," said Steinbeisser.

Epic provides a One Chart system allowing providers, nurses and other medical professionals access to their patients' medical files which is a more efficient and secure exchange of information. Having medical records readily accessible to multiple practitioners streamlines healthcare services; the system prompts quality and safety, reducing medication errors, aiding in the diagnosis of illness and means less duplication and fewer safety concerns. My Chart is available to patients allowing them to be more active in their healthcare. Patients can view appointment summaries, check on lab results, schedule appointments, request prescription renewals and receive reminder alerts for check-ups, immunizations and medication refills. Patients can also email non-emergent questions to their providers in a secure setting. There is an app available so that people can access their records on their phone and any provider nationwide who uses Epic can review their patient's medical records via My Lucy which patients can access through My Chart online.

Bert and Mavirda Lepel expanded health care services at the River Valley Clinic in February of 2014.

"The staff has been wonderful in their commitment to make it work and still communicate with patients. Patients are our first priority," said Haraldson of the considerable undertaking.

October 2013 was the official kick-off call and training began in March of 2014. On Junes 1, 2014 SHC converted from the former Meditech system to Epic software. The hospital achieved meaningful use in September with Sanford Health having the entire transition complete in just under a year.

Individuals can use My Chart for access to their personal medical records or for spouses and children's records and anyone interested in My Chart can go online to

In a community that is experiencing considerable growth and change, the efforts of the medical community have risen to the occasion to offer accessibility, reliability and a quality of care that we can all be grateful for.


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