Health Care with an Open Door and Open Heart

Heart and Hands Midwifery and Women's Health expands into new location, accepts patients no matter their financial restraints

By Myers Reece
Jeanne Tremper-Baker, certified nurse midwife, and Brooke Adams, family nurse practitioner, at Heart and Hands Midwifery and Women's Health in Kalispell on Jan. 25. Justin Franz | Flathead Beacon

Heart and Hands Midwifery and Women’s Health has a policy: nobody is turned away, regardless of ability to pay.

Of course, as a business with a bottom line, it enthusiastically welcomes patients who have private health insurance, Medicaid or other coverage to bill. But the providers at Heart and Hands understand circumstantial realities: loss of employment or other life-altering events, income that is too high to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to afford private health insurance, the list goes on.

Honey Newton, a certified nurse midwife, started Heart and Hands after years of practicing for larger organizations whose rules prevented her from caring for those underserved women who “have fallen through the cracks.” Branching out on her own — “a leap of faith” — she was able to write the rules, guided by the principles of an open heart, as written into the clinic’s name.

“I wanted something different,” Newton said. “We’ve got a lot of dreams and lot of hopes. We try to take care of the people that nobody else has cared for.”

Through five years in operation, Newton’s hopes and dreams have produced tangible results, as Heart and Hands has steadily grown, culminating in a December move into a spacious new location on West Reserve Drive in Kalispell. Jeanne Tremper-Baker, a certified nurse midwife, joined the clinic last year. Tremper-Baker has practiced in the valley for 21 years, most recently at Glacier Maternity & Women’s Center.

Newton used to travel to the Blackfeet Indian Reservation three days a week to work with families, particularly expectant mothers, promoting prenatal care and offering gifts such as blankets and wipes to those who showed up. Another provider has since taken on that responsibility, but the spirit of those efforts is rooted in her practice at Heart and Hands.

As the first tenants in the newly built location on Reserve, the providers and staff received the blessing of the developer to design and outfit the space to suit the needs of the practice’s clientele and make it eminently family-friendly. Providers and staff members each designed a room, resulting in a warm, inviting collection of distinctive décors: the Beach Room, Glacier Room, Goat Room, Zen Room and more.

The expansive and tastefully designed lobby features comfortable couches and a play area; sometimes families stay after an appointment to let their kids frolic, which is just fine with the crew at Heart and Hands.

The new location has also allowed the clinic to expand its services, including adding a third provider, Brooke Adams, who is a licensed family nurse practitioner, meaning she’s a registered nurse with advanced training that allows her to work with kids and their families. Newton recently secured her FNP certification as well. Heart and Hands also offers ultrasounds, massage therapy and doulas.

Now Heart and Hands can begin working with a family before a child’s birth, during and well after, with providers trained in pediatrics who are also able to treat the parents and relatives, offering a range of services in obstetrics, gynecology and primary care.

Adams said husbands are increasingly booking appointments for health checkups, which pleases her, as research shows men visit the doctor less frequently than women, but at Heart and Hands they have a natural introduction to a provider through their wife or child.

“Hopefully by encompassing the whole family, we’ll be able to provide better preventative care for the whole family, because it’s a place they can all come,” Adams said.

The clinic also works closely with other providers in the area, including OB/GYN doctors, and connects patients with relevant resources around the community. Adams has a network of connections with pediatric specialists from her previous work at Kalispell Regional Healthcare.

“We don’t work in a vacuum,” Tremper-Baker said.

The clinic has attracted a devoted and growing following through a combination of factors. For some, the lack of financial barriers is a key draw. Tremper-Baker said families typically do what they can, whether that’s some sort of a payment plan or donating their time by helping out with projects.

Others are attracted to the clinic’s integrated approach to medicine, predicated on being open-minded to patients’ interests in non-traditional holistic treatments in addition to offering a strong foundation in traditional Western medicine.

“We like to help support them in any way to become their best selves,” Tremper-Baker said.

All of the loyal patients, regardless of financial backgrounds or interest in non-traditional treatments, find appeal in the human-centered approach at Heart and Hands.

“We want to make it feel like a good, welcoming place to come to,” Tremper-Baker said.

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