Two community health centers in the Northland receive grants for upgradesTwo community health centers in the Northland will receive a combined total of more than $850,000 in grants tied to the Affordable Care Act, it was announced on Tuesday.
By: John Lundy, Duluth News Tribune
Two community health centers in the Northland will receive a combined total of more than $850,000 in grants tied to the Affordable Care Act, it was announced on Tuesday.
Cook Area Health Services Inc., which operates Scenic Rivers Health Service, will receive $498,611, and the Lake Superior Community Health Center will get $357,600, a news release from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said.
Lake Superior Community Health Center will use the grant to update its clinic at 3600 Tower Ave. in Superior, said Mavis Brehm, the center’s CEO. Energy-efficient windows will be installed in the 40-year-old building, doors will be replaced, and lighting and outside signage will be
“It will be more visible from Tower Avenue so people can locate our building,” Brehm said.
Also, a former storage area will be converted into a multipurpose education room for patient education, staff meetings and teleconferencing, she said.
The Superior clinic sees 5,000 patients who make about 16,000 visits a year, Brehm said. Ninety-two percent are from low-income households, meaning they make 200 percent or less of the federal poverty level. The clinic employs about 35 people.
The grant will cover the entire cost of the upgrade, and it is expected to be completed this year, Brehm said.
The Lake Superior Community Health Center also operates a clinic in West Duluth. Each clinic offers dental and medical care.
Scenic Rivers will use its grant to renovate its medical clinic in Northome, CEO Mike Holmes said. Northome is in western Koochiching County.
The health center was built in the 1950s and needs extensive improvements, Holmes said, including replacing heating, air-conditioning and ventilation systems; widening hallways and doorways; and modernizing bathrooms. The grant will cover 87 percent of the cost, he said. It’s hoped the work can be completed within a year.
Funding had been sought unsuccessfully before for the project, Holmes said. He received the news in an e-mail on Tuesday morning.
“It was absolutely good news for us and good news for the community of Northome,” he said.
Scenic Rivers also has medical clinics in Big Fork, Bigfalls, Cook and Floodwood and dental clinics in Cook and Floodwood. It’s the only health clinic in the communities it serves, Holmes said. Nonetheless, about 33 percent of its patients are uninsured. The clinics are in sparsely populated areas, and patients travel as far as 50 miles to get treatment.
“Compared to state averages we see a much poorer, much higher level of uninsured population,” Holmes said.
The Northome clinic is staffed by a nurse practitioner, Holmes said.
The two Northland projects were among more than $15 million in grants awarded across the state in two categories: long-term expansion projects and immediate facility and equipment needs. More than $16 million was awarded to Wisconsin community health centers.