HELENA — The Helena Indian Alliance serves thousands of people from the local area, both Native and non-Native. On Monday, they welcomed Gov. Greg Gianforte, to give him an up-close look at their facilities and future plans.
“It’s great that the governor has seen us as an organization and a community that is of importance to what we do,” said Todd Wilson, HIA’s executive director.
Gianforte had a private discussion with HIA leaders, then took a tour of their building, including the Leo Pocha Memorial Clinic.
The Helena Indian Alliance provides primary care, mental health care and behavioral health and substance abuse treatment, plus other resources. Gianforte said he was particularly impressed with their youth programs.
“They’re getting upstream and helping with after-school programs, so that hopefully they don’t end up needing some of their other services,” he said.
Wilson says, in 2021, HIA served about 4,500 patients, making 13,000 visits. He says the clinic is outgrowing their current – and very limited – space.
HIA has made plans for an addition to their building, to provide more space for the clinic. Wilson says they need to get approval from the federal Indian Health Service before they can move forward. Still, they’re already making preparations. They are building temporary space for their youth programs in the HIA gym, so they can move those programs away from the construction area once work begins.
The Helena Indian Alliance is already working with the governor’s office. They are a main treatment partner for the Angel Initiative, a state program in partnership with the Lewis and Clark County Sheriff’s Office. Under that program, people can turn in small amounts of drugs at a participating law enforcement office and get connected with treatment providers – without criminal liability.
“It’s really going to take an all-hands-on-deck approach to help people overcome addiction and become productive members of society,” said Gianforte.
“We really value that partnership and working together, because it really does take all of us,” Wilson said.
After a recent string of fentanyl and opioid-related overdoses in the Helena area, the Leo Pocha Clinic held a series of trainings on how to use the medication Narcan to reverse an overdose. Leaders say they saw strong interest in those trainings, and they hope to hold more like them later this year.
You can find more information about the Helena Indian Alliance on their website.