New Initiatives and Continued Quality Healthcare Highlighted as Sawtooth Mountain Clinic Moves Forward

New Initiatives and Continued Quality Healthcare Highlighted as Sawtooth Mountain Clinic Moves Forward

While preparing for challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic, SMC continues to expand with an array of health care services.

At its Annual Meeting on June 22, 2020, Sawtooth Mountain Clinic (SMC) updated the community on many new initiatives to continue to expand on its mission of providing high quality comprehensive health care to all users regardless of their financial ability to pay.

Among the developments were the election of new SMC Board of Directors Officers with Clare Shirley succeeding Carol DeSain as Board President and Diane Pearson succeeding Nancy Burns as Secretary.  Carol DeSain and Nancy Burns had served on the SMC Board for 33 years and 14 years respectively.

The SMC Board also accepted the nominations of Rick Anderson as Vice-President and Jenny Kartes as Treasurer.  Dr. Val Ulstad, Suzanne Davies, Ruth Olson and Jessa Frost were also re-elected as Board members.

“Sawtooth Mountain Clinic will be forever grateful to Carol DeSain and Nancy Burns for their longtime service to the community as SMC Board members,” said SMC CEO Kate Surbaugh, “Their vision and guidance has helped SMC become stronger than ever and has prepared us to embrace the constantly changing healthcare landscape with many new initiatives and services.”

One example highlighted at the Annual Meeting was the planned addition of a full-service, on-site pharmacy at Sawtooth Mountain Clinic.  Construction is now underway and SMC has contracted the services of a leading national pharmaceutical provider to launch the clinic pharmacy with fully accredited pharmacists.  SMC will offer enhanced medication management and continuity of care with primary care providers.  The pharmacy is being built conveniently within the existing SMC facility with plans to open in early 2021.

Other recent expanded services and changes at SMC include a groundbreaking medication assisted treatment program to help patients with opioid addiction, expanded telemedicine capabilities and behavioral health services and changes to operations and procedures due to the COVID pandemic.  The clinic welcomed 12 new staff members in the past year, received trauma-informed care training, collaborated with other local public health entities in responding to the COVID-19 crisis and was awarded a HRSA Quality Care Award grant.

“The SMC Board of Directors are so proud of leadership, providers and staff of SMC for delivering on the significant changes necessary for operations during COVID-19, and also for continuing to implement new ways to provide quality healthcare services despite these turbulent times,” said Board President Clare Shirley, “They are deeply committed to serve the healthcare needs of the Cook County and Grand Portage Tribal communities and should be applauded by everyone.”

SMC reminds community members not to neglect their personal health care needs despite the COVID-19 pandemic.  “Do not ignore changing conditions and feelings.  We are open for business to meet your health care needs safely.  We are here for you. Keep your health top of mind and reach out to SMC if you are not feeling well”, said Medical Director Dr. Paul Terrill.

The community is invited to visit the SMC website for much more information and follow its Facebook page for regular updates on the operations and services of SMC, to listen to frequent interviews on WTIP Radio and go to the Cook County Emergency Response Hub ( for COVID-19 developments and announcements from local and state officials.

Founded in June 1979, Sawtooth Mountain Clinic has grown to include six full-time physicians and one nurse practitioner. Along with a highly professional staff of nurses, behavioral health practitioners, medical record and office personnel, and administrative staff, these seven providers care for patients with health care needs ranging from prenatal to palliative.  Sawtooth Mountain Clinic is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization



Erin Watson

Sawtooth Mountain Clinic


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