|February 21, 2013
St. Ignatius THHS Clinic Optical Program opens for business
By B.L. Azure
Public Information Officer
Dr. Clint Hoxie tests out the optical equipment in the new optometry office in the St. Ignatius THHS Clinic. (B.L. Azure photo)
ST. IGNATIUS — The Tribal Health and Human Services Optical/Optometry Program office recently opened for business in the St. Ignatius THHS Clinic. The opening gives folks eligible for Tribal Health and Human Services a couple of optometry choices they didn’t have before on the Flathead Indian Reservation. Tribal Health and Human Services now has two optometry offices — one in Polson and now one in St. Ignatius to better serve the eligible clientele.
“The goal of the St. Ignatius (THHS) clinic’s optical services is to mirror whatever services they offer up north in the Polson (THHS) clinic,” said Clarice Cooper, THHS Clinical Care Division manager. To do that required the remodeling and stocking of the former WIC (Women, Infants and Children) program area into the new audiology and optical services offices. The new area will remain untouched in the St. Ignatius THHS Clinic construction and remodel project.
“We’ll have most of the same services here in St. Ignatius as they do in Polson but some services — those that require the special testing equipment housed in Polson will stay in Polson,” said Dr. Clint Hoxie, Optical Program manager. Hoxie will split his time between the Polson and St. Ignatius THHS clinics. “We’ll be running our Optical Program just like a private business with some competitive advantages. We’ll be offering excellent quality eye care with eyewear options that we sell at cost, generally around a third of the open market price.”
Hoxie said the on-site frame choice selection inventory is on par with private optical services clinics. Patients can also order from the catalogs of THHS suppliers or purchase frames from another business or supplier and THHS can order the lenses for them. It takes from seven to 10 days to get orders filled.
“Our patients are not limited to a certain set of frame options,” Hoxie said. Patients can pick from a wide array of frame styles with the typical lens options like photo-gray and bifocals in glass or plastic and/or contact lenses. “Everyone gets the best deal around because there is no mark-up.”
Raelena Whitesell, optical technician, adjusts Betty Fyant’s glasses at the new optometry office in the St. Ignatius THHS Clinic. (B.L. Azure photo)
The THHS optical offices provide non-charged examinations to people eligible for treaty-obligated health care services. The frames and lenses and/or contact lenses with or without additions such as photo-gray or bifocals are available at the THHS purchase cost. A second pair is available at half price with the same order. There are also discounts for full time students, diabetics and the elderly, among others.
People who use non-THHS optical services on and off the reservation for exams and eyeglasses and/or contact lenses now have another option. It could save them time and money.
“The service is good, the products are good as the private practice at a reasonable and affordable price,” Cooper said. “Everything is the same as private practice except people get more bang for their buck here.”
Tribal Health and Human Services Director Kevin Howlett said the addition of the optical services program in the St. Ignatius is another forward step towards providing the THHS eligible service clientele quality health care service options with the latest technical and/or medical advancements. One of the goals of THHS is to become the health care provider of choice for the 12,000 people receiving health care managed by THHS. Presently 40 percent of the eligible clientele access health care at THHS clinical facilities.
THHS Optical Optometry hours
• Polson Optical Optometry hours
883-5541, ext. 7321
Wednesday: 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Thursday: 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
(Closed for lunch: 12 to 1 p.m.)
Friday: 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.f
• St. Ignatius Optical Optometry hours
745-3525 ext. 5091
Monday: 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Tuesday: 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
(Closed for lunch 12 to 1 p.m.)
Dr. Hoxie, who has been with the THHS Optical Services Program for nearly three years, will split his time between the Polson and St. Ignatius THHS clinics. Raelena Whitesell is the optical technician that assists Hoxie.
Hoxie will be in St. Ignatius Monday and Tuesday from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. with the noon hour off for lunch; then in Polson on Wednesday and Thursday from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. with the noon hour off for lunch; and Friday from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.
The will be a grand opening shindig at the St. Ignatius THHS Clinic optical optometry services when the dust settles and the growing pangs subside, towards the end of March. Stay tuned.