St. Peter’s Health partners with University of Utah Health to expand specialty and critical care in Helena

November 27, 2018

Read a full FAQ about the new affiliation. 

Watch the full video of the affiliation announcement. 

(Helena, MT) – St. Peter’s Health today announced an affiliation with Salt Lake City-based University of Utah Health (U of U) that will expand the level of care provided to patients in Helena. Patients will benefit from the partnership by having intensivists and sub-specialists from U of U Health join their care team, bringing an added level of expertise to clinical decision-making and reducing the number of medically necessary transfers outside of Helena. The agreement builds on a long tradition of collaboration between the two health care systems.

“Affiliations, or partnerships, are an innovative and efficient way to bring the expertise of nationally-ranked health care systems into smaller communities like Helena,” said St. Peter’s Health CEO Wade Johnson. “Some people may not be aware that University of Utah Health is a top ten academic medical center in the country and has been ranked number one twice in recent years. They are amongst the very best for quality, service and cost, and we look forward to what this partnership will bring to St. Peter’s, our patients and the community.”  

Using advanced technology for telehealth, St. Peter’s Health will have 24-7 access to U of U Health physicians for high-risk medical specialties like advanced burn, critical care and stroke care. Future efforts could include expanded use of telehealth services as well as satellite clinics staffed by U of U Health specialists.

According to Dr. Ashley (Basten) Coggins, St. Peter’s Health Hospitalist and Executive Medical Director for Inpatient Services, some patients have already benefitted from the affiliation with the recent launch of TeleICU, and there is no extra cost to the patient.

“TeleICU allows our physicians treating critically ill patients in our ICU to consult directly with intensive care specialists from U of U Health using a secure audio-video platform. This gives our staff and the patient’s family peace of mind as we are treating the patient and reduces transfers to other facilities, which may introduce a host of other challenges inherent to being far away from home.”  

Through the affiliation, St. Peter’s Health physicians, nurses and other staff will also benefit from ongoing training, research and education opportunities to help them prepare for and respond to the rapid changes in health care, while continuing to provide the highest value and quality care to patients.

University of Utah Health officials are optimistic that the partnership will position both organizations for success in the rapidly changing health care environment. “Inherent in our mission as a teaching hospital is our responsibility to share clinical best practices and research advances, and provide our community partners with the educational resources we’ve developed as a university,” said Dr. Ted Kimball, Medical Director of the Office of Network Development and Telehealth at University of Utah Health. “We want to be a resource to improve the health and well-being of residents across the West.”

Gordon Crabtree, CEO of University of Utah Health, says the partnership makes sense because both organizations share a commitment to providing high quality care. “We recognize that no one wants to leave his or her community when they get sick. The goal of this partnership is to enhance St. Peter’s Health’s ability to serve the residents in the region with high quality care and better access to specialty care not currently available,” he said.

Both organizations emphasize the affiliation does not change ownership, local control or governance, nor does it restrict patient choice in providers or physician choice in referrals.

“This affiliation is a strategic move in our effort to become the gold standard in health care for Montana,” said Johnson. “We’ve chosen to align with an institution that sets the bar in terms of health care quality and patient satisfaction, and who we know will treat our friends and neighbors with the care and compassion they deserve.”