Havre, Montana – In August of 2008, the Hi-Line Sletten Cancer Center was opened in Havre, Montana. It was the culmination of an idea, a hope for healing close to home, of two years of grass-roots fund-raising, and a lot of hard work. The communities of the Hi-Line could now receive chemotherapy and radiation treatments closer to home.
But in February of 2012 the center was closed due to regulatory and financial challenges. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services had mandated that a radiation oncologist must be present when a patient receives treatment; an option that was cost prohibitive for most of the state.
“It was always our hope that we would be able to reopen the Hi-Line Sletten Cancer Center. We have been working with Benefis to find a way to return these very important services to the Hi-Line.” Says Christen Obresley, Executive Director of the Northern Montana Health Care Foundation. “And now we’re proud to say that after months of negotiations and planning, the Hi-Line Sletten Cancer Center will be reopening this spring as a joint venture between Northern Montana Health Care and Benefis.”
Benefis Oncologist, Dr. Donald Berdeaux, will see patients on site one day a week, and will work with the Northern Montana Health Care Medical Staff who will serve as supervising physicians to coordinate care on a daily basis.
The center will open with oncology chemotherapy services, and hopes to add radiation oncology pending the changes in federal regulations. A bill co-sponsored by U.S. Senator Jon Tester, (D-Mont.), and Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), is instrumental to the offering of these services. This bill provides for one year of relief and directs CMS to implement a more reasonable policy for outpatient services at small hospitals. The bipartisan bill was unanimously passed by the U.S. Senate last month and awaits House approval.
“We’re confident that this joint venture has positioned the Hi-Line Sletten Cancer Center to serve patients well into the future,” said Joe LoDuca, Chief Administrative Officer of the Benefis Sletten Cancer Institute.
Working together, Northern Montana Health Care and Benefis hope to have the center reopened prior to May 31st. More information about services and appointments will be provided to the public by Northern Montana Health Care as they near their opening date.