Summit Community Care Clinic helps locals with health needs
September 1, 2010
SUMMIT COUNTY – Without the Summit Community Care Clinic, low-income locals would lack a health care safety net – the nonprofit in Frisco treats those without health insurance, or those who are underinsured.
Essentially, it helps everyone living and working in the community to have access to affordable health treatments. Those who qualify as low-income pay for service on a sliding scale.
And despite numerous funding issues over the past winter season, the financial health of the clinic is improving.
“We’re in fine shape,” said executive director Sarah Vaine. “We are not needing to cancel programs, and we’re fully staffed. We’re not anticipating a crisis like last year. We won’t have to turn away patients.”
Last fall, the Care Clinic put a temporary hold on accepting new patients as a way to catch up on a backlog of patients and save money. This was necessary, as the nonprofit sustained a drop in government funding with the down economy. The Care Clinic continues to see big increases in new patients due to changes in employment status.
Even so, finding enough funds to operate can be a struggle.
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“We still have an unhealthy dependence on state funding,” Vaine said, noting that about 40 percent of the clinic’s budget comes from state funds. “Other state contracts have diminished or been cut because of the budget crisis. What we’re looking at is trying to diversify funding streams – local, corporate and individual donations.”
One big local funder, The Summit Foundation, is a big supporter of the Care Clinic for its dedication to helping locals with basic needs issues.
“Low-income health care is a priority of the Summit Foundation, and we’re very pleased with the care that the clinic gives and their collaboration with other organizations,” Summit Foundation executive director Lee Zimmerman said. “They provide a lot of good care.”
Vaine is hopeful she’ll be able to find other significant funders locally as well.
“Over time we’re really going to have to change our funding structure,” Vaine said. “More than ever, we’re relying on people in our community to support our mission. And there’s a pay back for people who can contribute. People kept out of the emergency room lowers everyone’s taxes.”
According to Vaine, the Care Clinic’s biggest challenge is adequately communicating to the community what the nonprofit does.
“People are surprised about the exciting and progressive things done at the Care Clinic,” she said, “once they hear about our services.”
For example, the Care Clinic employs a naturopathic doctor who specializes in nutrition and acupuncture – these services are offered once a week.
“Our model of care is recognized state-wide and nationally as exceptional,” Vaine said. “Behavioral health is a part of care offered.”
One big goal at the Care Clinic is to become a part of a local health care collaborative. Vaine is part of a group of Summit health providers brainstorming ways to connect all the different entities throughout the community. That way the different providers will have access to medical records from all over the area, not just their own.
Vaine’s other big hope is that people make themselves eligible for care at the clinic before they become sick.
“Everyone waits until they’re sick to get Care Cards,” she said. “Come in before you’re sick. It speeds up treatment.”
Fore more information about the Summit Community Care Clinic and eligibility requirements, visit http://www.summitclinic.org.
SDN reporter Caitlin Row can be reached at (970) 668-4633 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.