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KBTX | Bryan & College Station, TX | News, Weather, Sports

Federal Money Keeps Clinics Open

By: Lindsay Liepman
By: Lindsay Liepman

Federal dollars are flowing into new community health centers in both Grimes and Robertson counties.

But could the competition help or hurt other clinics already operating in those areas?

When the Grimes County Community Health Center opened its doors last October, it was already operating in the red.

So was Robertson County's new center.

But those community's felt the need for affordable health care was too great, to wait.

"That's what we really needed. We need a place where people can get care without strapping their budgets. This clinic has really opened up a lot of doors for the county," said Pam Finke, Grimes County Commissioner.

The federal government is giving both clinics an initial $150,000 to purchase equipment.

Then, every year after, each clinic will get $250,000.

The money will help keep the doors of the facilities open, guaranteeing low cost health care for patients in the community.

About 75 percent of the patients that go to Bryan's Community Healthcare Center are uninsured.

It's the model that Grimes and Robertson County clinics are trying to mirror.

"There's always a patient each day when you're like I'm glad we have the resources, the money to help this one person," said Dr. Audrey Ormberg.

Grimes and Robertson Counties are already being served by St. Joseph clinics and some say the new health centers could be their competition, but others say that's just not the case.

"We work closely with St. Joseph and we don't see ourselves as competition. We have a great benefit of keeping people out of the emergency room and hospitals when they don't have the resources," said Eric Todd of the Brazos Valley Community Action Agency.

Lowering the amount of uncompensated care that hospitals and clinics have to eat, is the bigger picture for the community health centers.

Of the 12,600 patients the Bryan clinic serves, only 128 of them had to go to the hospital.

Dr. Audrey Ormberg says it's working in Grimes county too.

"We have a lot of newly diagnosed diabetics, but now we can give them things that in the long run will determine how many end up in the hospital," said Dr. Ormberg.

And keeping residents out of the hospital but in good health -- is the ultimate goal.


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