Coronavirus Response – “Relief Right Now” – (Updated July 16th, 2020)

We will use this page to keep members updated on our corona virus response, with newer information on top.  As this situation is rapidly changing, we strongly encourage you to follow us on Facebook to get the most up to date information about the credit union.

July 16th, 2020

For the continued safety of our members and staff, and to better abide with the most recent directive from the governor’s office, the credit union will return to allowing members in the lobby on a per-appointment basis only. The credit union will return to providing curbside delivery, as well as providing frequent checks to our night drop during normal business hours.
 
We apologize for the inconvenience. We will return to normal lobby procedures as soon as we feel it is feasible.

May 26th 2020

Letter from the President: Coronavirus Response Update
On May 19th, Governor Bullock announced that the state would enter “Phase II” of our Covid-19 response. What does the mean for the credit union and its members?

There will not be a great deal of immediate change at our office for this phase. In the next few weeks, we will get Jackie, our real estate guru, back in the office from her home office. We know our members will be glad to have her back. Burt the cat though is going to be upset about losing his co-worker though . . .

Everyone else who is currently working from home will continue to do so, most likely until we enter Phase III. Our lobby will continue to be restricted to 2 members at a time, to provide safe social distancing, and our frontline employees will continue to wear masks while in direct contact with members.

In these last few months, we have made several moves to both assist our members and increase our services options. Here are a few I would especially like to highlight:

Relief Right Now Grant. In conjunction with our Philanthropy Card Partners, the credit union was able to give over $6,000 in direct aid to our members who have experienced a hardship due to the shutdown. Great partners made this possible. Truly “people helping people”.

RiverStone ATM. The credit union installed an ATM for patients and employees at RiverStone Health. This ATM will help our members who work at RiverStone, as well as patients there avoid a trip either to the credit union or their own bank, thus helping out with social distancing.

Updated Online Banking. The credit union has engaged a vendor to streamline our online banking platform. One feature that we think will be especially helpful during the shutdown (and beyond) is a live chat feature. Stay tuned for further announcements about this transition.

Shiloh Branch! We have started construction on our second location on Shiloh! This new branch will feature Interactive Teller Machines – with a human being nearby to assist. The machines represent another way to provide social distancing, without sacrificing service levels.

There is a lot of talk and controversy about “the new normal”. I won’t step into that mine field, but what I will say is this: the credit union is committed to providing great service no matter what the environment we find ourselves in. Our job is to adapt to your needs – for both financial services and peace of mind. Please let me know if you think we are succeeding, or if you have ideas of how we can do better.

Dennis R. Wizeman
President/CEO, Montana Health FCU

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April 24th, 2020

Letter from the President: Coronavirus Response Update

In response to the Governor Bullock’s announcement of April 22nd, and in consultation with county health officials, Montana Health will begin an incremental reopening of our lobby. This reopening will occur in phases, to match the three-phase process outlined by the governor. What does this mean for our members?

Our lobby will be open again to members on Monday, April 27th. The lobby will be reconfigured to allow for social distancing, including the marks on the floor we have all become familiar with in recent weeks. During Phase One we will only allow two members in the office at any one time. Sanitizer will be made available for our members in our vestibule. Lobby furniture and courtesies like coffee, water and cookies will be temporarily unavailable. Employees in direct contact with members will be required to wear face masks and all employees will be required to do a health evaluation at the beginning of their shift. Members will not be required to wear masks upon entry, but our long-standing practices of not allowing face coverings due to security concerns will be temporarily suspended. Loan closings will continue to be done remotely via secure document delivery.

During Phase One we strongly encourage members to continue to use other channels and only come into the lobby if absolutely necessary. We will still continue to offer curbside service to members who are not comfortable coming into the office and we will continue to check our night drop throughout the day. In addition, we still have a full suite of electronic channels, remain fully staffed to answer phone calls and have a full-service ATM that is disinfected hourly.

As we proceed through Phase Two and Phase Three, we will gradually add amenities back to the lobby, bring our staff back into the office and allow more people into the lobby. We are cautiously hopeful that we are returning to normal. We miss our members – a lot. We will follow all the directives of course – as a health care credit union we are acutely aware of the need to protect our members on the front-line of this health-care emergency. That being said, we are smiling just a little that we can begin to see at least some of you in person again.

Please follow us on Facebook page to stay up to date on these gradual changes in our service levels. And in the meanwhile, of course, stay safe and healthy.

Dennis R. Wizeman
President/CEO, Montana Health FCU

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April 14th, 2020

Letter From the President: Coronavirus Response Update

As we are all well aware by now, the governor has moved the shelter-in-place date up to April 24th.  A great debate about when we will “get back to normal” is starting to surface.  I won’t engage in that debate here, but will just say that MHFCU will continue to operate under its current restrictions until we hear something definitive from public health officials.

In the meanwhile, we have continued to strive to provide more relief for our members who have been affected by the economic shutdown.  Most significantly we are rolling out our Relief Right Now Bill Payment Program today.  This program will provide small grants to approved members to directly pay monthly bills.  These bills do not have to be with Montana Health.  The idea is that when combined with the leniency many institutions are providing at the current time, these grants can help leverage a bit more relief to our members.  Please follow this link to see further details of the program and to find out how to apply: https://www.montanahealthfcu.org/relief-right-now-bill-payment-grants/

We would like to thank our Philanthropy Card Partners (Billings Clinic, SCL Health, RiverStone Health, St. John’s United and Big Horn Hospital) and Alloya Corporate Federal Credit Union (the “credit union’s credit union”) who helped fund this grant program.

On another note, it is with some frustration that I announce that the credit union will stop pursing the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).  The costs to engage in the program, both in labor and increased compliance burden, were tipping the cost-benefit scale — pursuing the program to benefit a small fraction of our members who qualify was beginning to take away from resources we could use to serve the majority of our members who do not qualify.  Indeed, from what I have heard, only 20% of credit unions nationwide are engaging in the program.  We will keep our eyes on this — if the program is revised (automatic SBA approval, assistance with processing the loans, clarification on loan guarantees, more accommodations in general to smaller credit unions and banks) we will strongly consider looking at the program.  But for the time being we will continue to look for other ways to help our members.

We will be creating a direct web page with links to our Relief Right Now programs later this week to help consolidate our efforts and make it easier for members to access this important information.

And finally, on a personal note, I want to say that I miss you all!  Half of our staff is working from home right now, and while our office remains quite busy with phone calls, the chatter in our lobby is obviously silenced.  When we remodeled a few years ago, we emphasized that our lobby should be a place for accidental meetings of people who used to work together, or for employees to sit down to casually catch up with members on what’s going on in their lives, or just to chat about the weather with each other . . . this kind of space is good business, but more importantly it’s just a great place for people, both members and employees, to be people.  I know at the right time it will come back.  But in the meanwhile, I just wanted to express that I miss it, I miss our members and I miss our employees working diligently from their kitchen tables right now.  Here’s to when we can all get back together again!

 

Dennis R. Wizeman
President/CEO, Montana Health FCU

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March 27th, 2020

Letter from the President: Coronavirus Response Update

Well, week two of social distancing in the books.

Last night we all received word that the Governor has instituted a “Shelter in Place” order starting at 12:01 on Saturday morning. Montana Health is considered an essential service under the order and will remain open under our “by appointment model”.

We remain dedicated to helping our members through this difficult time by maintaining our full staff, offering limited lobby service and instituting a new suite of products designed specifically for the environment we are in right now. Please see my previous letter or visit https://www.montanahealthfcu.org/credit-union-coronavirus-response/ to get further details on steps we are taking to ensure both safety and service. If you aren’t following us on Facebook, I would strongly encourage you to do so – that’s our fastest way for us to get information out during this rapidly evolving situation.

I will close again with thanking our members who are on the frontlines directly battling this pandemic. With your help, Montana will come out of this even stronger than before.

Dennis R. Wizeman
President/CEO Montana Health FCU

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March 20th, 2020

Letter from the President: Montana Health’s Special Mission

As we end the first week of intense social distancing, I have been reflecting a great deal on Montana Health’s special mission to serve the people who work in healthcare.

Credit Unions in general are special because of their defined fields of membership. Some serve specific geographic areas. Some serve specific employers or industry groups. We are chartered to serve people who work in healthcare. Now, more than ever, that mission has become critically important. Serving the people who are basically charged with saving the world – well, that’s a pretty heavy responsibility.

To that end, we have begun to look at extra ordinary steps to meet the needs of our members. Here are a few things we have done or are going to do in the next few days to help our members out during this time of pandemic:

 

  • Relief Right Now HELOC Program
    • A home equity program designed to get cash to members who need it fast. We’ve dramatically lowered the rate to 2.99%, sped up the process to the shortest time allowed by law and modified our credit guidelines to serve more people. With this new program you can get access to up to $20,000 of home equity with a lower interest only payment for two years before going to traditional interest/principal payments. This product will come with its own dedicated plastic card you can use anywhere you see the Visa logo – no longer any need to come into the office to get an advance, and no longer any minimum advance requirement. Our healthcare folks are generally working now, but many of their spouses may now be on furlough. This product is designed to help with cash flow during this time.
  • Relief Right Now Home Equity Special
    • A new, non-line of credit product designed for folks who only want to do one draw and go right away into a traditional principal/interest payment. We have also built in low rates into this product (as low as 3.74%) and allowed for up to 100% loan-to-value. This product may allow for a greater advance, but still with a price below market rates.
  • Relief Right Now Auto Loan Program
    • An auto loan program that allows for the lower payments like a lease but gives the benefits of ownership to our members. Unlike traditional leases, this program will allow our members to purchase used vehicles up 4 years old. If a member buys a car that’s two years old (after it has already suffered its major depreciation hit) and uses this program, they may be able to dramatically lower their monthly payment. This increases cash flow while still giving our members the ability to upgrade what is typically the second most valuable asset on their personal balance sheets.
  • Lobby Restrictions
    • Most institutions around the country have gone to “appointment-only” models for lobby traffic this week. Our members, more than most people, understand the need to do this to protect both members and employees, and to slow down the rate of infection around the country. Currently we are offering “curbside service” to our members where we will meet you right outside our office to bring out counter checks, paperwork – whatever is needed. We will be refining this process and looking for improvements.
  • Electronic Services
    • We are actively going through our files to find members who aren’t effectively using our free electronic services. We will provide these members with plastic, or give instruction on how to use mobile banking, or show where they can find surcharge free ATM’s.
  • Relief Right Now Credit Assistance and Education
    • We are actively looking for solutions for members who are experiencing credit problems during this time. We cannot solve every problem – but we will make accommodations where we can and provide education at every turn. There’s enough panic right now about the pandemic. We will try to provide some calm about your finances right now.  To this end we have temporarily expanded our Skip-A-Pay program
      • The fee for the program is waived.
      • The application period has been moved from 15 days before the loan is due to 9 days after the due date.
  • Restrictions Apply
    • Nothing in banking is ever as simple as it should be, so this is the part where I need to tell you that certain restrictions apply, you should call the office for further details, we are NCUA insured and an equal housing lender, etc., etc. That legalese out of the way, I will let you know that our intention is to make all of this as simple for you as we can.

And that represents the start of how we will attempt to help out during the pandemic. We know that you are doing all of the real heavy lifting right now. We will keep trying to make things on the financial side easier so that you can keep concentrating on saving the world.

Dennis R. Wizeman
President/CEO, Montana Health FCU

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March 17th, 2020

Montana Health will be closing its lobby to general traffic starting Wednesday, March 18th.  A few items to note:

  • The credit union will still be open for business and processing items;
  • We will be answering and returning phone calls
  • We will let members in on an appointment basis for transactions that absolutely cannot be completed electronically;
  • We will be checking our night drop hourly to process items;
  • Our electronic services (deposit taking ATM, remote deposit capture, online and mobile banking) will be unaffected by this closure;
  • The MoneyPass ATM network will allow our members to complete surcharge free ATM transactions wherever they see the MoneyPass logo;
  • The lobby will closed until further notice.  We will open when it is deemed safe and prudent to open for both members and employees of the credit union.  Our goal is to open as soon as possible once these conditions are met.

We truly appreciate your patience while we all weather out this storm caused by the Covid-19 virus.  And to our members especially, working the frontline of the pandemic on the front lines, we give a heartfelt thank you.  We’ve always said you were exceptional — you’re proving it more than ever now.

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March 12th, 2020

Letter from the President:

Unless directed by governmental authorities, Montana Health Federal Credit Union plans to remain open for the duration of this pandemic event.  That being said, we strongly encourage members to find alternative channels to accessing credit union services other than branch visits.  The credit union has the following channels available:

  • For cash:
    • Credit Union ATM at our location at our 2nd Avenue Branch
    • MoneyPass ATM’s (surcharge free for MHFCU members).  A list of these ATM’s can be found here: MoneyPass ATM Locator
  • Online Banking Functionality:
    • Account information
    • Transferring between accounts
  • Mobile Banking Functionality:
    • Account information
    • Transferring between accounts
    • Mobile Remote Deposit Capture
  • Night Drop at 2nd Avenue Location
    • Will now be checked hourly, rather than just once a day.
  • Curbside Assistance
    • Higher risk members who need to transact business at our office can call in and one of our employees will meet them at their car to help them avoid coming into the lobby.
  • Loans
    • We will attempt to do most transactions via DocuSign.
  • Phones:
    • At this point the credit union remains fully staffed and ready to assist member on the phone.

Again, we will make every effort to service our members during this period of “social distancing”.  In order to comply with suggestions made by public health officials, we do ask members to limit their visits to the office — please call first or use one of the many electronic channels we have made available over the years and only come in if you have to.  Since a majority of members work in the health field, they already understand the need for these precautions far better than most.  These next few weeks will be a test for how well we can service our amazing members as they strive to take care of the rest of us!  We hope we can perform as wonderfully as they will.

Dennis R. Wizeman

President/CEO MHFCU

Click here if you wish to see the section of our policy devoted to pandemic response.