Community Clinic officials talk heathcare issues during event at clinic in southwest Fayetteville

by Kim Souza ([email protected]) 102 views 

Community Clinic continues to spread its wings in Northwest Arkansas now operating 14 locations for medical and dental care for more than 35,000 people a year. The safety-net health care provider is subsidized with up to $2.4 million in federal grant funding annually to run its four medical clinics.

Tyler Clark, community development director for Community Clinic, said about 16% of the total operating budget is covered with federal funding, and it’s not a free clinic. He said everyone pays something for the care they receive at the clinic. Just 36% are insured and around 45% have medicaid or Arkansas Works coverage and they pay for the services they use on a sliding scale relative to income.

For instance most will pay a $25 office visit and then X-rays or clinical blood tests and such incur a separate charge also based on the sliding scale. About 90% of the Community Clinic’s client base fall within 200% of the federal poverty level.

Kathy Grisham, director of the Community Clinic, said during a Thursday (Aug. 11) grand opening ceremony at the newest location in Fayetteville that the model has been sustainable since 1994 and the footprint has now spread to 14 locations. Four are medical clinics in Fayetteville, Rogers, Springdale and Siloam Springs. There are also two dental clinics in Springdale and Rogers. More recently the coverage expanded to include 7 school-based health programs at the following schools: Fayetteville- Owl Creek School; Lincoln Wellness Center; Prairie Grove Wellness Clinic; Siloam Springs Wellness Center; Springdale Wellness Centers; George Elementary; Elmdale Elementary; and Jones Elementary.

U.S. Rep. Steve Womack, R-Rogers, addresses the audience during an event at the Community Clinic in Fayetteville.
U.S. Rep. Steve Womack, R-Rogers, addresses the audience during an event at the Community Clinic in Fayetteville.

Dr. Joyce McConaughy, board secretary for Community Clinic, told Talk Business & Politics, she became acquainted with Community Clinic years ago when see was a nurse educator for community health.

“My students used the clinic for practical experience and I became an advocate for this healthcare model because it is doing in an efficient manner what so many have tried to do and failed. It’s pay as you go and truly income based. Having the programs in the schools has been a huge benefit to so many local families who can get access to professional healthcare at their local elementary schools,” McConaughy said.

Clark and McConaughy saidhigh deductibles that have become the norm under Obamacare have too many folks not seeking medical care because they can’t afford the deductible and it’s all out of pocket. Clark said Community Clinic has seen more of this in its clinics in the past few years. He said Community Clinic does not require the full deductible and allows the client to pay an income-based charge and that will also be applied to the deductible. He said the only real issue he has seen is if they need care outside the Community Clinic other providers can require the full deductible.

“When possible we will work with our partners and try to get them our clients a payment plan that is affordable,” Clark said.

Grisham said Community Clinic employs about 250 health care professionals and support staff across the non-profit. She thanked the Endeavor Foundation for special funding support the Fayetteville clinic received prior to opening in November 2015. The clinic will see about 3,500 clients annually. The grand opening was postponed until Thursday as part of Community Health Care week across America.

U.S. Rep. Steve Womack, R-Rogers, stopped by the grand opening Thursday and said programs like this ensure communities can stay healthy. He said a healthy community is a productive community and he applauded the grassroots health care Community Clinic has been doing on a shoestring budget for more than two decades.

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