OneHealth receives surprise grant

Thursday was filled with tears, excitement and disbelief for the members of oneHealth of Miles City as they were surprised with a $50,000 Healthy Kids, Healthy Families Grant from BlueCross and BlueShield of Montana (BCBSMT).

The money will be used to place nurses in Custer County District High School and Washington Middle School, at least temporarily.

The local health care provider applied for the grant in May and employees have been waiting anxiously ever since to hear back. 

“Every day I was checking my email, Googling it,” said Molly Wendland, oneHealth’s human resources and communications director, between tears.

“I was so nervous. This is like having Ed McMahon surprise us.,” Wendland said.

Healthy Kids, Healthy Families is a program through BCBSMT where they partner with or invest in nonprofit organizations. These organizations must offer sustainable and measurable programs that help children and families. 

The program focuses on five areas: nutrition, physical activity, supporting safe environments, suicide prevention, and disease prevention and management. 

This year BCBSMT received 17 applications and oneHealth’s application was deemed worthy. Only four grants are awarded each year.

OneHealth’s original application only asked for $15,000 but BCBSMT was so impressed they decided to award $50,000 instead.

Through partnering with the school district oneHealth will use the money for their School Nurses Save Lives program. This program will put a oneHealth nurse in both the high school and middle school. The goal is to eventually have a nurse in every school building, Wendland said.

The school nurses will be Lindsay Bryan and Kami Doughty.

Bryan and Doughty will attend the Zero Suicide Academy, a two-day training session that seeks to reduce the number of suicides. 

“The students trust and know them. They’re respected,” said Wendland. 

Custer County School District Superintendent Keith Campbell, Custer County High School P\principal Beez Lucero, Washington Middle School Principal Derek Tvedt and oneHealth are already planning to meet to plan out all of the uses for the money. 

“It was quite shocking and I am so excited to be in the schools and to be able to do this in our community,” said Wendland.

The check was presented by BCBSMT representatives Randi Heigh and Jesse Zentz.