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The Rolla Daily News - Rolla, MO
  • $774K awarded for new health clinic

  • More than $700,000 has been awarded to open a new community health center in Rolla, area officials learned this week. The South Central Missouri Community Health Center was notified this week by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration that funding has been awarded to create a community health center in Rolla.
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  • More than $700,000 has been awarded to open a new community health center in Rolla, area officials learned this week.
    The South Central Missouri Community Health Center was notified this week by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration that funding has been awarded to create a community health center in Rolla.
    This follows an announcement by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius that $150 million in awards under the Affordable Care Act will support 236 new health center sites nationwide.
    The amount awarded from the Health Center New Access Point grant for the first year of the Rolla clinic, including start-up support, is $744,455. That is equal to 38 percent of the total program cost of approximately $2 million.
    "The center will open in the first part of March," explained Amy Beechner-McCarthy, executive director of The Community Partnership, who also serves as board chair for South Central Missouri Community Health Center, which spearheaded the project.
    The clinic is going to be housed in the Pathways building on 10th Street in Rolla, with Jodi Waltman, Phelps-Maries Health Department administrator, serving as interim executive director.
    "It will provide our community with access to primary health care, dental care, and behavioral health care for people in the community, regardless of their income levels," Beechner-McCarthy said.
    Beechner-McCarthy said that the fee for services will be based on a sliding scale.
    "If people are living at a very low level of income, the fees will be in direct proportion to that level. We'll also accept Medicare, Medicaid and private insurance, but this is an opportunity for us to take care of people who haven't had access to health care."
    The road to an affordable health care center has been a long one.
    "We formed a steering committee and started working on this project about 18 months ago," said Waltman. "We worked with Missouri Foundation for Health, and applied for a HRSA planning grant, which was awarded to us. Once that was awarded, it was a year of intense work, planning and preparing to apply for the community health center funding. That involved another few months of intense work to submit the grant.
    "The fact is, people with low income and without health insurance have not been able to afford primary health care," said Waltman. "With this clinic, the sliding scale will make it possible for them to be seen by a physician for regular care. This is particularly important if they have a chronic disease like diabetes or high blood pressure. This will allow them to improve their health.
    "It will operate Monday through Friday, with regular clinic hours and will be open half days on Saturdays," said Waltman. "This will allow access to people who have difficulty getting off work during the week."
    Page 2 of 2 - Beechner-McCarthy said The Community Partnership is "leading the charge" to get the clinic birthed.
    "The next few months will be busy ones," she said. "We'll be hiring a physician, nurse practitioners, social workers, and an executive director. The clinic already has its own board of directors and articles of incorporation. It's an entirely separate organization from The Community Partnership, but we'll be helping it get on its feet and have it ready for operation by March."
    "We are thrilled about what this will mean for our community," said Beechner-McCarthy. "We're looking for a healthier community with more opportunities. When people are healthy, they can work and contribute. It's going to make a huge difference in the quality of life for a lot of people."
    More information about the new health care center will be available in the coming months.
    A Health Center New Access Point grant in the amount of $704,167 also was awarded to the Richland Medical Center in Pulaski County.
    A total of nine grants, including ones for the clinics in Rolla and Richland, were awarded in Missouri.

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