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Family Nurse Practitioner Milissa Grandchamp joins Polson THHS clinic

By B.L. Azure

Family Nurse Practitioner Milissa Grandchamp recently joined the health care provision staff at Tribal Health and is working at the Polson THHS Clinic. (B.L. Azure photo) Family Nurse Practitioner Milissa Grandchamp recently joined the health care provision staff at Tribal Health and is working at the Polson THHS Clinic. (B.L. Azure photo)

POLSON — The Tribal Health and Human Services Department recently welcomed Family Nurse Practitioner Milissa Grandchamp to its medical provision corps. Grandchamp, who has worked for THHS previously to her latest go round, said Tribal Health is a good match for her career goals and fits like a well-worn comfortable glove. Milissa began work at the Polson THHS Clinic in early January.

“I am pretty familiar with Tribal Health from my previous employment here,” Grandchamp said, adding that she worked at the St. Ignatius THHS Clinic with occasional rotations at the other Tribal Health clinics last time around. “That’s where I discovered that I really like doing clinical work and meeting people.”

Tribal Health Director Kevin Howlett said the hiring of Grandchamp is another step toward the goal of making Tribal Health a comprehensive health care delivery system and the provider of choice for eligible clientele.

“We know Milissa well from her previous time here at Tribal Health. She is a skilled clinical nurse,” Howlett said. “When she entered the Masters program at Montana State I made a commitment to her that once she completed her degree that Tribal Health would have a position for her. She is a great addition to the Polson Clinic and a valuable asset of Tribal Health.”

Grandchamp said she got into nursing because it was something she wanted to do from an early age.

“I didn’t have a role model. None of my immediate family were involved in health care,” she said, adding that while in high school she participated in the Indians into Medicine (INMED) program at the University of South Dakota. “I got into the medical profession so I could help the Native American community live a healthier life so we don’t have so many health care issues on the reservation. A healthy lifestyle is a good lifestyle that can prevent negative health issues.”

Grandchamp graduated from Browning High School in 1990 then went on to earn an Associate of Arts nursing degree at Salish Kootenai College.

After earning her AA degree she went back to Browning where she worked for five years at the Indian Health Service Hospital. Following that stint Milissa returned to SKC to pursue a Bachelor of Science Nursing degree that she earned in 2003.

Following graduation from SKC Milissa went to work for Tribal Health where she remained until 2009. In 2009 she left Tribal Health to pursue a Masters degree in nursing with a focus on Family Nurse Practitioner at Montana State University.

After graduation in 2011 she took time off from working to care for her young children.

During that time Milissa, her husband John and one of their daughters took time to serve in a religious mission in Japan. They stayed in a suburban area at the western edge of Tokyo.

“We stayed away from the larger cities and tourist areas,” Milissa said. “It was a metro area, pretty big but it had a spread out country feel to it. There were not a lot of people there and it was not a place were tourists would visit.”

Milissa said the experience on the other side of the planet was a pleasant eye opener.

“It was a great opportunity to learn about a new culture in an interesting foreign country. The Japanese are a very hospitable people,” she said. While there doing the Lord’s work John and Milissa also worked at the local elementary school. “There are a lot of Americans in Japan that teach English on the side or as a fulltime instructors. We assisted in teaching English and in the physical education program.”

Milissa learned that the human condition in Japan has many similarities and desires as American Indians in the United States.

“The Japanese have similar needs as us. They have goals to improve themselves so they can help improve their society to improve their community just like we do,” she said. “They work with each other, help each other to bring a positive experience for their children.”

Milissa and John have four children, two are attending college and the other two attend Pablo Elementary School.

“I plan on sticking around for awhile,” Milissa said. “I enjoy the clinical work and the people I work with.”

Howlett said he wants Milissa stays around for a long, long time.

“She is another example of Tribal Health’s commitment to get our people trained and educated so they can be employed in the provision of health care for our people,” he said. “It is also part of our goal to be able to be the provider of choice for our service population.”

Tribal Health presently provides health care services to 11,300 folks and 45 percent of them access the services at Tribal Health clinics.

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