By Ed Moreth 

Plains clinic welcomes new staff members


January 12, 2023

Ed Moreth

Heath Gerig, family nurse practitioner specialist, and Helen Durgin, chief operating officer, are the newest members of the Costner Care Family Clinic of Plains.

The Costner Care Family Clinic of Plains has added two additional staff members and might have another one coming in the spring.

The clinic's newest member is Heath Gerig, who began work last Monday, bringing the clinic's staff to 10 at the Costner Care Family Clinic, located on Railroad Street on the west side of Plains. The 33-year-old Gerig is a family nurse practitioner specialist with 14 years experience in primary care, Covid ICU, cardiothoracic surgery ICU, and medical/surgical ICU, along with a specialty in critical care nursing.

"I've always wanted to come back to Montana after I moved away from Trout Creek to go to college," said Gerig, who moved to Plains recently with his wife, Aubrey, from Oregon, where he had worked as a registered nurse in critical care at Peace Harbor in Florence Bay and before that at a clinic in Coos Bay, Oregon. Gerig was born in Ohio and raised in Oregon, but had been a teacher at the Clark Fork Christian School in Thompson Falls for several years.

Family Nurse Practitioner David Costner, a who opened his clinic in July 2021, didn't advertise for the position in the normal sense and he didn't utilize a professional recruiter. Costner said he wanted someone with ties to the community and knew of Gerig through Dora Eberly, a patient service representative with the clinic. He said that Gehrig's interviews and background were excellent. Gerig received his masters of science in nursing from Frontier Nursing University in 2019. "I'm looking forward to being able to impact the community positively," said Gerig. "I'm looking forward to having a wholesome family friendly work environment again," he added.

Gerig wasn't the only new member of the clinic. Helen Durgin of Plains retired from Clark Fork Valley Hospital in July after 20 years and started at Costner Care Family Clinic in August as the chief operating officer. The 59-year-old Durgin has a business finance degree in healthcare with more than 35 years of experience in the healthcare business. She said that leaving the hospital was a difficult decision.

"Healthcare has been very challenging the past couple of years with Covid and I was completely depleted of energy. I needed to refresh and regroup," said Durgin, who added that she was privileged to work with both David and Julie Costner at the hospital. "I knew they worked hard and were dependable. As a manager, David was my go to person for coverage needs at the clinics. Knowing this about David and understanding his vision to provide excellence in healthcare to our communities left no question in my mind that this would be a great opportunity," said Durgin, who grew up in Maine, Vermont, and New Hampshire, but moved to Montana as a young woman.

"Helen Durgin brings a wealth of experience and inspiration to our team. As chief operating officer, she not only helps develop and maintain policy and procedures and identify room for professional and process improvement, but she is also helping us implement business plans as she maintains relationships with our various offsite associates as well," said Costner. "Patients and staff have already benefited from her involvement with the clinic. The staff really enjoys her team building sessions," he added.

Durgin said that as a new clinic employee, it's uplifting to see the clinic grow with developing opportunities in the community by adding a new provider and clinical support staff to the clinic. "How exciting it is to be a part of something so good for the surrounding communities," she said, adding that the clinic allows her to be fully involved in the practice. "Transparency is important when running any business to support the mission, vision, and values of a company. There is a mutual respect that fosters creative thinking, develops opportunities for growth, and provides excellence in service to patients and staff," she said. "Working for Costner Care Family Clinic gives me the opportunity to work independently in an environment conducive to promoting compassion, faith, and quality care to our patients."

There are also plans for Gerig's wife, Aubrey, a registered nurse since 2015, to join the staff in the spring. She's been in the medical field for 10 years. "Heath and Aubrey share our passion for serving the community with holistic care of people of all backgrounds. Our desire is to care for our neighbors and friends like family and offer hope, even in the midst of illness," said Costner, who has a dozen years as a primary care provider, including five years at Clark Fork Valley Hospital. Costner's wife, Julie, a registered nurse, works at the clinic, along with their son, Elijah, an RN who is in the process of completing his radiology clinical requirements at Clark Fork Valley Hospital in order to offer x-ray services at the Costner clinic in the spring.

Costner prides himself on having strong community ethics and believes in putting forth his firm Christian beliefs in the clinic. Twice since starting his business he has held free health screenings and is planning another sometime this year. "We appreciate the opportunity to grow with the community," said Costner. "This will provide expanded services and availability for our patients."


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