A $6.2 million grant from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment is providing a financial windfall to two local organizations providing medical care to the uninsured.
HealthCare Access and Heartland Medical Clinic, a division of The LEO Center, received primary care clinic and health center grants in excess of $100,000. Heartland Medical Clinic received a $110,000 grant. HealthCare Access, which has received similar funding from KDHE for the last 15 years, received $180,000, its largest-ever grant.
Jon Stewart, CEO of the LEO Center, said the funds pay for Heartland Medical Clinic's day-to-day operations.
"It's not very glamorous, but it's important infrastructure," he said. This is the second consecutive year Heartland Medical Clinic has received the grant.
Nikki King, executive director of HealthCare Access, said her organization is required to match every dollar it receives in grant funding, whether through donations or services. Last year it matched seven times the amount it received in grants.
She said the grant money will be used to fund nursing care, as well a donation to the Douglas County Dental Clinic. Last year HealthCare Access gave the clinic $22,000; this year King said it hopes to give more. Stewart said Heartland Medical Clinic would subsidize patient visits to the dental clinic.
"What it means is more access, more appointments," she said. "We're going to be able to add more services with this funding, knowing that it's stable for another 12 months."
KDHE funding has helped the clinic turn office space into exam rooms, cutting down wait times for record numbers of patients.
"We couldn't do business without those efforts," Stewart said.
Heartland Medical Clinic will use the funds to focus on prevention and education programs, such as diabetes education.
"They say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure," Stewart said. But in this case, "a dollar in prevention is worth a couple of hundred in cure, in terms of health care."
"No charitable product can survive merely on charitable donations," said Barbara Gibson, director of primary care for KDHE. "The Legislature has recognized that this is of very important public interest that local communities have provided projects made of volunteers and dedicated professional staff."
In 2007, the primary care grants served more than 180,000 Kansans, through more than 475,000 patient visits.