Making Connections in Fort Peck

Mom kisses baby in lap while holding thermometer up to laptop webcam.

Fort Peck could be a poster community for ‘Big Sky Country.’ Sparsely populated with open, undulating prairie and an unimpeded view of the horizon, there is no denying it’s a beautiful place. What Fort Peck lacks is ready access to medical care and reliable internet – two real problems in the age of COVID and the rise of telemedicine.

Since July 2020, Montana Pediatrics* has been working to identify barriers, create relationships, and implement pediatric telemedicine for the children at Fort Peck as part of the Health Promotion and Disease Prevention program (HPDP). The program serves approximately 2,500 children in the Fort Peck area, ages 0-21 years.

The program has completed over 180 telehealth visits; however, when internet connection is poor, the program must rely on phone calls and photo sharing rather than a video call.  This is not optimal for telemedicine. Searching for a better solution, Alice Laverdiere (Director of Programs and Physician Collaboration) borrowed a Jetpack Mobile Hotspot from MonTECH to trial in Fort Peck.  Did it work?

The Jetpack proved to be a viable and easy-to-use solution.  “I was able to use the Jetpack to connect in multiple, very rural and poor connectivity areas throughout Fort Peck on the iPad,” Alice reports. “This was significant in that it will support home visits, visits in the community, and a back-up when on-site connectivity at the clinic is down.”

This was great feedback for the MonTECH team.  Last fall, in partnership with the Montana Family to Family Health Information Center, MonTECH purchased $15,000 in equipment to support telehealth and remote therapy. Any Montanan can borrow that equipment for free for up to 60 days, with free shipping provided both ways. If you are having difficulty participating in online appointments, or you are a provider with patients or clients struggling with connectivity or lack of devices, call or write MonTECH and we’ll tell you how we can help., (406) 243-5751.

*Montana Pediatrics, as explained on their website: “We are physician innovators working together to improve access to high quality pediatric care for families and to create opportunities for physicians across Montana to collaborate. We believe that teamwork and clinical care can transcend our vast geography.” Get more information by contacting Alice Laverdiere at (916) 960-7211,