Montana Viewpoint: Closed minds, closed primaries


How Republican Party Chair Jeff Essmann keeps a straight face arguing for his party’s right to keep Democrats from voting in a Republican primary, when he knows that Republican county officers have been getting themselves elected to Democratic Party offices, is beyond me. Continue Reading →

Recycled trailer brings tailgating to Rocky soccer


What do you think you’d do with an aging 24-foot double-wheel travel trailer traded in for the latest, greatest model on the lot? Wreck it, I hear you say, but not Dave and Michelle Luce. Michelle saw something beautiful and functional in this old cast-off.

Their son, Donovan Luce, is a freshman at Rocky Mountain College and plays on the men’s soccer team. Dave and Michelle, who have watched just about every one of his games from age 8 through high school and club career, were gearing up for a different experience at college games—tailgating! Continue Reading →

In Helena, a chance meeting with a fascinating wasp


I recently joined some work colleagues for a farewell celebration in the courtyard of one of Helena’s public houses along Last Chance Gulch. One of our party noticed that we were sitting under a deciduous tree that seemed to have been dead for several years.

Presently, we were visited by a very large wasp, which several in the group found quite disturbing. Continue Reading →

New play: A sense of place in a post-apocalyptic world


“A Post on the Prairie,” a new piece by Billings playwright Ryan Gage, was inspired by a setting and by Gage’s love of post-apocalyptic fiction.

The play takes place around a campfire, just as Gage’s first one-act play did when he wrote it eight years ago.

“Part of me always wanted to return to that,” he said, “but with something bigger.” Continue Reading →

In Montana, many problems with newborn screening


Editor’s note: Montana’s newborn screening program depends on speed to save babies from a plethora of deadly disorders at birth. But the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services fought for 10 months to keep hospitals’ performance records hidden from public view, before finally agreeing to release the data with hospital names.

The results are not good, highlighting the importance of transparency and accountability to ensure an effective newborn screening program for Montana families. Continue Reading →

Limited weekend lab hours add to delays


In Montana and 26 other states around the country, newborn screening samples are not processed on the weekends, creating unnecessary delays that put little lives at big risk. The Montana Public Health Laboratory is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., with limited hours on Saturdays. The lab is closed on Sundays. Continue Reading →

State lab courier system explained

Courier Route Map

September is newborn screening awareness month. And one of the key components of Montana’s newborn screening program is the state courier system connected to the Montana Public Health Laboratory in Helena.

Medical Logistic Solutions, with locations in Billings and Bozeman, has the state contract that includes the majority of healthcare facilities with birthing centers in Montana. Drivers pick up the newborn screening blood samples from healthcare facilities and provide same-day delivery to the lab for testing, with coverage in more than 50 Montana cities. Continue Reading →