Maternal & Family Health in Western Montana

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In 2023, new partnerships and projects were implemented to better learn, serve, and engage communities doing the work supporting maternal and family health in Western Montana.

Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies:

In the Fall of 2023, a partnership between Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies of Montana and WMT-AHEC was formed. Centered around the Native American Initiatives Program, lead by Dr. Amy Stiffarm (she/her) both partners understood specific needs but prioritized the communities and parents voices and contribution to the "on the ground" working. The partnership secured funding to support the creation of a Native American Maternal Health Community Advisory Board (CAB). This CAB was officially formed in January 2024 and is comprised of 15 mothers, professionals, "aunties", leaders, Indigenous Doulas, policy advocates, etc. around the state of Montana.

Additionally, Dr. Stiffarm & WMT-AHEC Health Equity & Community Engagement Specialist, Chelsea Bellon will work together with the partnership of Drew Babcock (he/him) at the Family Medicine Residency Program of Western Montana to host, facilitate, and grow Cultural Safety knowledge for faculty, residents, and staff. The project will begin in April 2024 and end in August 2024. Over the course of four months, dozens of physicans and healthcare professionals in various rural site locations will engage in meaningful and safe trainings to better serve Indigenous patients, families, and communities.

Mountain Home Montana:

March 2024 marked the start of a relationship with Mountain Home Montana located in Missoula but serving Western Montana as a whole. WMT-AHEC's Health Equity & Community Engagement Specialist, Chelsea Bellon is serving as Mountain Home's DEI & Indigenous Community Engagement Specialist. In this limited, part-time role Chelsea will work with Mountain Home toward their DEI goals as an organization, ensuring their foundational knowledge and pathway to inclusion supports the families they serve and the staff behind all the work. Chelsea will also work to build trusting relationships between Montana's tribal communities and Mountain Home to ensure services not only accomodate but encourage cultural identity and safety.