Fed Grant 'Game Changer' For Children's Clinic

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Story Updated: Jun 20, 2012

A $650,000 federal grant will give the North Country Children's Clinic a big boost, letting the clinic hire more staff, renovate its Watertown facility and open a new facility in Lewis County.

"This is a game changer, really," said Aileen Martin, the executive director of the clinic.

With the funding, the clinic will establish two Federally Qualified Health Centers by renovating their current facility in Jefferson, adding an additional doctor and three nurses at that location, and opening a new facility in Lewis County. 

The key is the clinic's designation as a 'Federally Qualified Health Center,' which should help finance the clinic on a continuing basis.

"It absolutely provides a funding stream that is not as variable as our Medicaid rate or even those many years when we were relying on member items," Martin said.

(A 'member item' is money from the state or federal budget, given to individual legislators for specific projects. It's also known as an 'earmark.')

The clinic has struggled in recent years to continue serving poor children, and has announced plans to treat those children after they become adults.

The clinic's application to the federal government has been pending for more than a year and a half.

"All round, it's a win-win for the North Country Children's Clinic," said Jennifer Hodge, director of development.

“These grants are an important tool to improve care and reduce health care costs," said Congressman Bill Owens. "In my 30 years of experience working with these programs, I have seen how valuable they are to the overall health of the communities they serve." 

Located in Jefferson County, North Country Children's Clinic (NCCC) was established in 1971 to serve children without access to healthcare. Today, NCCC is comprised of a diagnostic and treatment center, six school-based centers, four dental clinics in three counties, two portable dental units, integrated mental health services throughout its sites, a telepsychiatry program, and a four-county WIC program.

With the funding, North Country Children's Clinic will establish two Federally Qualified Health Centers to address the high rates of diabetes, adult obesity, heart disease mortality, high blood pressure, and late or no prenatal care in communities throughout Jefferson and Lewis Counties. NCCC will expand coverage and provide community-based primary care, mental health, oral health, and school based services to over 15,000 patients annually in communities where there is a severe lack of access to quality and comprehensive health care.

 

 

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