St. Peter’s Health and Carroll College announce plans to explore community health clinic and academic facility

June 2, 2021

Memorandum of understanding signed to launch innovative partnership

St. Peter’s Health and Carroll College today announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) which marks an intent for both organizations to begin a collaborative planning process focused on the potential development of a multi-purpose community health center and academic facility on the campus of Carroll College.

The preliminary concept calls for the construction of a state-of-the-art facility on the southwest corner of campus which will entail a new centralized gateway to the college and a revised design for the Founders’ Corner. The partnership concept is the first of its kind for Catholic higher education and a unique example of a collaboration nationally between a private Catholic college and regional health system.

“We’re thrilled to be piloting this innovative partnership to connect education, health and wellness, and sustainability together in a holistic experience for our students, faculty and the community,” said Carroll College President John Cech, Ph.D. “Our academic programs for nursing and allied health professions continue to grow. We believe there is tremendous value for students to build on a strong liberal arts foundation through on-campus experiential learning and a deeper academic integration with health care delivery in our community that embraces the mind, body and spirit.” 

The St. Peter’s clinic at Carroll College is envisioned to be Helena’s first integrated health and wellness clinic, with plans to offer a broad range of traditional medicine and alternative therapies in one location. Family medicine physicians and advanced practitioners will lead a multi-disciplinary team of medical professionals that will likely include behavioral health and social work, culinary medicine, occupational health, pharmacy, physiotherapy, and alternative therapies such as massage and naturopathic medicine. The envisioned health clinic would include educational and training space for Carroll’s students pursuing degrees in nursing and allied health professions. St. Peter’s will operate the clinic, which will serve the greater Helena community as well as Carroll’s students, faculty, and staff, and provide hands-on clinical instruction to Carroll students. In addition, the proposed partnership for the clinic on the Catholic campus would operate in an agreed-upon manner consistent with the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services.  

“St. Peter’s and Carroll have a mutual interest and commitment to enhance the quality of health care in the greater Helena community,” said St. Peter’s CEO Wade Johnson. “Working together, we can address the critical workforce shortage of qualified health care professionals, and also ensure graduating students in this field have the hands-on training and education they need to transition successfully into a new career.”

With an MOU in place, St. Peter’s and Carroll will now begin to engage a variety of key stakeholders including Carroll faculty and staff, St. Peter’s providers and staff, members of the community and other project partners to develop a conceptual design and a proposed framework for clinical service delivery and future academic utilization. While a specific agreement is yet to be developed for Carroll’s use of the space, college officials anticipate the new clinic will assist with supporting clinical requirements for its nursing and new Master of Social Work degree.  In addition, it will provide internship opportunities for students involved in the college’s pre-health professional and business academic programs. A portion of the space in the proposed new building will also be available to the college as it works on future development of new high demand health care programs.

The agreement between St. Peter’s and Carroll is expected to include a land-lease agreement and construction financed by St. Peter’s of a potentially 20,000 square-foot multi-purpose facility on Carroll’s campus. Both governing boards of Carroll College and St. Peter’s have authorized their respective leadership teams to engage members of their institutions in the development of a comprehensive proposal which will be reviewed by both boards in the fall for consideration and approval. 

Carroll and St. Peter’s have over 50 years of history working together to strengthen health care education in Helena. Cech and Johnson have been exploring ideas for potential collaboration to support and enhance the college’s health services center since 2018.  The institutions collaborate regularly on Carroll’s Bachelor of Science in Nursing program, including the college’s new Accelerated Nursing program and Health Sciences program, and most recently, on the launch of Carroll’s new Master of Social Work program. In 2020, St. Peter’s and Carroll co-developed an innovative Health Care Leadership Certificate program designed for emerging health care leaders who want to successfully transition from a clinical role to a leadership role. The inaugural class graduated this May, and the course will continue to be offered annually to health care leaders throughout Montana.