Focus Areas

Strengthen Public Health System Capacity 

MTPHI will continue to support local and tribal public health agencies, healthcare and behavioral health system partners, and community-based organizations to deliver effective public health programs and services well beyond the pandemic, including:

  • leveraging funding and re-granting to communities to support health and system improvements,

  • providing backbone administrative support for public health and other community-based organizations,

  • convening and supporting multi-sector health improvement initiatives, and

  • monitoring the public health system to continue to identify and address specific capacity needs.


With the response to the COVID-19 pandemic consuming much of the focus and capacity within the public health system, the Institute has assembled a team of public health professionals and is currently offering technical assistance and support to the local and tribal response. A wide variety of services are available to assist, including with:

  • public information and communications
  • drafting of documents to support local operations
  • use of data and metrics to support decision-making, and
  • adoption of technology

If you are a local or tribal public health professional and you are interested in accessing support from MTPHI, please email or call Hillary Hanson at or 406-249-6357.

The Addictive and Mental Disorders Division, Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services has provided funding to counties to assist with integrating behavioral health crisis services into the pandemic response. The Division has funded the MTPHI to:

  • facilitate a learning community of behavioral health crisis coordinators,
  • provide site-specific technical assistance to them, including virtual site visits, and
  • evaluate programs in nine counties and on two American Indian reservations.

The Addictive and Mental Disorders Division, Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services has contracted with the MTPHI to develop marketing materials for counseling services that are available for persons impacted by COVID-19. MTPHI is developing a website and creating and disseminating traditional and social media, as well as print materials tailored to the target population.

Health Policy Research 

MTPHI was founded, in part, to meet the need for a Montana-based entity to conduct neutral and non-partisan research, assessments and analyses to support sound health policy and funding.

MTPHI will continue to expand its research capabilities, including:

  • monitoring health policy interests of stakeholders and policymakers, and identifying vital health policy topics,

  • conducting, publishing and disseminating independent data-driven policy analyses,

  • becoming a trusted source of information to engage and educate elected officials, and policymakers about public health issues, programs, policies, funding and the public health and healthcare system.


MTPHI partnered with the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) to conduct a study to better understand the local and tribal response to COVID-19 in Montana and how it could be better supported by statewide public health organizations. In August and September 2020, information about the local and tribal response was collected using key informant interviews with Lead Local Public Health Officials (LLPHOs). The LLPHO is the local health officer in jurisdictions that employ a full-time local health officer. Interviews were attempted with the LLPHO in each local and tribal jurisdiction and were completed with 40 of 58 (69%). Objectives of the study were twofold:

  1. To create a summary of the ways that HDs are utilizing the Coronavirus Relief Funds (CRF) from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). This information is summarized in a separate report entitled, “Montana Local and Tribal Health Departments Use of the Coronavirus Relief Fund: A report from the Montana Public Health Institute and Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services, September 15, 2020,” that can be accessed here.
  2. To create a plan to provide additional support to the local and tribal response based on the needs identified in the interviews.  “A Plan to Address Local and Tribal Public Health System Needs” can be accessed here.

Representatives of statewide public health organizations including DPHHS, MTPHI, Montana Public Health Association, Montana Association of Public Health Officials, Montana Healthcare Foundation, Montana Public Health Training Center and We Are Montana developed the plan collaboratively and strategies were identified for each, based on their mission and capacity. In response, MTPHI has assembled a team to research, synthesize and disseminate emerging science and information related to COVID-19. Products will include:

  • guidance documents for local and tribal health department use (e.g., rapid antigen testing in the schools)
  • briefs on specific topics in easily accessible formats for local and tribal public health professionals in educating their communities (e.g., mask wearing, vaccine, transmission via bars/restaurants), and
  • an easily digestible weekly summary for busy public health professionals to include:
    • public health meetings and trainings occurring that week,
    • brief summaries of emerging COVID literature, and
    • key Montana data points from the previous week.