31 March 2009

Michigan Clinics Receive Stimulus Money For Uninsured

michigan womens health at priority healthOriginally Posted at WZZM13

At least 2 health centers in West Michigan will get a portion of new stimulus money coming to the state.

More than $8 million dollars will be divided between 29 federally qualified community health centers. The Cherry Street Health Services and Saint Mary's Heartside Clinic are two of them.

"The amount of money that we are getting right at this time is $604,000 and with that we will be able to add 13 new staff members. Those include two dentists, a hygienist a physician and medical assistants, dental assistants and others," said Chris Shea, the executive director of Cherry Street Health Services.

The agency operates 13 clinics in Kent County where low income residents can get help with health, dental and counseling services. Shea said last year the clinics served 45,000 people but says there were many more they could not help.

"We estimate there are as many as 4 times that number of people who have limited access to health care primarily due to income. It is right on time. It is coming to us quickly it certainly is not in the amounts that are needed to serve everyone, but it is at least a good boost to get us moving in the right direction," he said.

Shea said the money will allow the clinics to provide care for more people who have lost their jobs or Michigan health insurance.

Nationally clinics will use the funds over the next two years to create or keep about 150 jobs and provide care for nearly 54 thousand new patients.

St. Mary's Health Care is receiving stimulus money to the tune of $194,000. A spokesperson for the center says it will use it's money to extend hours and services offered at it's Heartside Clinic.

Each year about 8,000 homeless people visit the clinic. These are generally people without a Michigan health insurance company. The grant money will allow the clinic to provide 2,500 more visits to the homeless or destitute.

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