Healthcare For All

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The future site of Family Health Services in Bellevue . Photo credit: Wood River Weekly

$1 million grant from St. Luke’s brings clinic for uninsured, underinsured to Bellevue

By Eric Valentine

Family Health Services has confirmed plans to open a medical, dental, and behavioral health clinic, with pharmacy services in the city of Bellevue to serve the uninsured and underinsured in Blaine County thanks to a $1 million grant from the St. Luke’s Wood River Foundation. A date for a grand opening has not yet been set, but a November or December launch was probable, Family Health Services CEO Aaron Houston said.

“I believe this is one of the most impactful efforts that (the foundation) and the hospital have undertaken,” said Megan Tanous, the foundation’s chief development officer.

Creating Health

The foundation says that financial situations have prevented many Blaine County patients from accessing healthcare and that more than 700 Valley residents have had to travel to Family Health Services clinics in Jerome or Fairfield just last year.

All services for the uninsured will be significantly discounted based on a patient’s Federal Poverty Level (200% or below). Family Health Services also sees a high number of Medicaid patients, specifically in need of dental and behavioral healthcare. Many Blaine County behavioral health providers and dentists do not accept Medicaid.

Family Health Services works to reach people who may be reluctant to access care or who may not be aware of how to access care. Often, those managing chronic disease fall into this category and end up needing urgent or emergency care that may have been preventable. Adding a location in Bellevue removes the barrier of missing work and/or school as well as incurring additional expenses related to transportation to receive services outside of Blaine County.

Creating Jobs

Some potentially new Valley folks won’t be needing government help covering healthcare costs. That’s because Family Health Services will also be a job creator here, with most of those positions typically covered with health benefits.

• The organization is working to hire:

• 2 full-time nurse practitioners

• 1 full-time dentist

• 1 part-time hygienist

• 1 full-time licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) counselor

• 1 full-time pharmacist

• Bilingual support staff

Creating Space

Family Health Services has secured a lease for a 4,136-square-foot building in Bellevue. The building needs a remodel to accommodate the proposed services. The grant from the SLWR Foundation will assist with the remodel and start-up costs including equipment, as well as financial support for the five-year lease. The clinic is slated to open in the fall of 2021.

Typically, these types of clinics can secure government grants to fund start-up costs. These government grants are based on median income and health statistics. But Blaine County’s median income is too high, and its health statistics are too good to qualify for a start-up grant. Without the foundation’s support, Family Health Services would not be able to provide these important and needed services to patients in Blaine County.

Carmen Jacobsen, chief operating officer/CNO, SLWR, concluded, “We are pleased to welcome Family Health Services and look forward to partnering with them to help improve access to care and to further deliver on our mission of improving the health of everyone in the communities we serve.”

To support this project, contact Megan Tanous, (208) 727-8444 or www.slwrf.org. For information about Family Health Services employment opportunities or services, visit www.fhsid.org.

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