Community clinic to go nonprofit
SUMMIT COUNTY – Summit County government didn’t intend to stay in the health care business when it opened the Summit Community Care Clinic 11 years ago to treat the uninsured and underinsured.But demand for the clinic’s services has only grown over the years with the ever-climbing cost of health care.Now, the clinic is preparing to leave the county nest and become its own independent nonprofit.”It was not a long-term vision of the county government to provide direct medical services – we saw the clinic as a temporary thing in public health,” said Deb Crook, county public health director.
“The federal government was maybe looking at a universal health care adventure, but that didn’t happen. And it doesn’t seem that the needs of the uninsured and underinsured will go away,” she said. Crook believes that independent, 501(c)(3) nonprofit status will allow the clinic to raise additional funds for which it’s currently not eligible, as a department in county government.”We received a designation from the federal government as a medically underserved population area. With that designation, in addition to being a 501(c)(3), we can apply at the federal level for some funding. It really does open up some options,” Crook said.Crook hopes to explore other funding options as well, including grants and an endowment.
The Internal Revenue Service is now reviewing the clinic’s application for nonprofit status. The county would continue to provide in-kind services, as it does now, by housing the clinic.Crook said the clinic would better serve those needing care with increased funding and an imminent move to Summit County’s medical campus where the new hospital is under construction near Frisco. The clinic currently operates 16 hours per week in the county’s public health offices in the County Commons building near Frisco, but Crook envisions doubling that.”The advantage for the clients will be more access for appointments, which are limited now. There will be some restructuring, but the vision is that we would continue with the same mission of providing health care to the underinsured and uninsured,” Crook said.
About 2,900 clients visited the clinic in 2004, almost a 14 percent increase over the previous year. Clients pay for services – examinations, prescriptions, X-rays, ultrasounds – on a sliding scale.Two part-time, grant-funded health care providers staff the clinic with the help of volunteers, and the Summit Medical Center helps out with lab work.”It really is a community effort that enables us to see these folks,” Crook said.Julie Sutor can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 203, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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