Cass family clinic turns 45Published 11:50am Thursday, August 20, 2009
By JOHN EBY
CASSOPOLIS – If the $462,975 in stimulus funds showered on Cassopolis Family Clinic raised any eyebrows in this village that is the Cass County seat, it was federal acknowledgement that this member of the National Association of Community Health Center represents an “economic engine.”
Between the clinic at 109 School St. and its obstetrical clinic by the hospital in Niles, 39 people are employed. Combine what it pays for OB doctors and the clinic payroll and it’s a sum of $3 million a year.
“In March, we got $150,000 in an increased demand for services grant,” Executive Director Mary Geegan Middleton said last week. “Community health centers are getting more and more people coming to them who are uninsured or who have Medicaid. This grant was intended to give community health centers additional money to see more patients.
“In trying to figure out what would be the best for our patients, we came up with a plan to work with Jeff Elliott (administrator of the Van Buren/Cass County District Public Health Department in Cassopolis and Hartford) for dental services for our patients.”
The big prop check for $462,975 is for capital improvement through HRSA, the Health Resources and Services Administration.
“That can be used for technology, repairs, remodeling, construction, that type of thing,” Middleton said. At a luncheon Aug. 11 celebrating its 45th anniversary (1964-2009), Middleton recalled that in 1992 it was certified as a rural health clinic kept open by Dr. Aaron Warren.
“Lakeland bought the clinic in 1993 and operated it as a rural health clinic until 2005. We got enhanced payments for Medicare and Medicaid patients, which helped keep the clinic open.”
In 2005, the clinic was awarded Federally Qualified Health Center, or FQHC, status. “That gave us cost reimbursement for Medicare and Medicaid. Also, then, it gave us the requirement of having to provide coverage for people who have limited or no ability to pay without federal grants.”
In September 2007, the clinic received full FQHC status, that meant cost reimbursement for Medicare and Medicaid. “… so now we had a positive bottom line…. We like to think we’re carrying on the tradition that started back in the 1960s when the community built this clinic because there was a need for doctors to take care of them.”
“All together, we have staff with 205 years of service,” she said. “We are here to offer affordable primary care. More and more every day, we see people coming here who lost their insurance, lost their job. We’ve had an incredible amount of increase to our Medicaid patient base.”