Feedback: North Country Childrens' Clinic To Close

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After more than 40 years, the North Country Children's Clinic is closing due to financial problems.

All 128 employees, who agreed to take a pay cut last week, will be laid off as of Friday.

This means the 10,000 low-income people who use the clinic will have to seek health and dental services elsewhere.

Executive Director Dan Wasneechak made the announcement during a news conference Tuesday afternoon.

He said the clinic only has enough money to pay its workers through Friday.

"This is a very hard and regrettable decision that we're making," said Wasneechak.

Wasneechak said the agency has been struggling financially due to several factors:

- delays in state reimbursements

- increased costs

- inefficiencies within the agency

- the partial federal government shutdown

Wasneechak said the financial problems have been so dire that employees agreed to take pay cuts last week.

"This is something we were trying to avoid, and unfortunately, the way the funding has rolled out, we have no choice."

He said after the layoffs go into effect, eight to 12 staffers have agreed to stay on as volunteers.

Wasneechak described the closure as temporary, but he said the clinic's plans to restructure could take between three and six months.

In the meantime, the federally funded Women, Infants, Children program, or WIC, will continue, though some of the details weren't clear Tuesday.

The clinic, which dispenses the WIC checks, said the money will now come directly from Albany. It was not known who would pick up other WIC responsibilities now carried out by the clinic.

Word of the decision to close first started to circulate after an 11 a.m. meeting between the clinic and financial institutions which had loaned the clinic money.

Last month, the Watertown Local Development Corporation (Watertown Trust) bailed the clinic out with a $125,000 loan.

At the time, the clinic said it was waiting on some federal grants which were set to come in October,

According to the clinic's web site, a group of volunteers founded the agency in 1971.

See our earlier report

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Thursday, July 24, 2014
, Watertown, NY

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