Three Douglas County health clinics that provide care for low-income, uninsured residents recently received $331,704 in state grant money.
And the executive directors were relieved, considering the economy.
“The state budget is certainly a concern at a time like this,” said Jon Stewart, executive director of the Heartland Medical Clinic. “It was absolutely a big concern for us.”
That’s because the clinic, at the east end of Lawrence Riverfront Plaza, is hearing about the growing need for its medical services. “The most remarkable increase for us recently has been the number of calls from patients who previously had insurance but who have just recently lost coverage due to the downturn,” Stewart said. “In most cases, these individuals are struggling to keep a roof over their head, much less pay for a doctor visit.”
Despite that growing need, it received the same amount of funding from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment as last year: $100,000. But Stewart wasn’t complaining.
“There’s plenty of need, and I am just happy to see the resources are continuing to be there,” Stewart said.
Health Care Access, 1920 Moodie Road, landed $180,000, which was $20,000 more than last year.
“We were quite tickled to receive that,” said Nikki King, executive director of Health Care Access. “It was a very pleasant surprise. We were preparing for a reduction just in case.”
That wouldn’t have been easy with the wait for an appointment standing at nine weeks. King said walk-in appointments are filled each day within the first 10 minutes of opening.
And for the first time, Douglas County Dental Clinic, 316 Maine, was eligible to apply for the grant. Although Julie Branstrom, executive director, sought $65,000 in funding, she was pleased to get $51,704.
“It certainly is not as much as we need, but it’s absolutely more than we thought we would receive, so we are feeling really thankful,” she said.
She said the number of patients who qualified for the lowest fees has grown 16 percent during the past 12 months. Meanwhile, the wait to get an appointment with a dentist stands at four weeks.
“This is definitely going to help us see more uninsured adults,” Branstrom said.
KDHE announced Tuesday morning that the three Douglas County clinics were among 39 clinics statewide that received a total of $6.3 million in funding. The awards ranged from $17,800 to $453,000.
It’s estimated that 340,000 people — about 13 percent of Kansans — do not have health insurance. About 13,000 of them live in Douglas County.