Cass Family Clinic to open dental office in Niles, serve uninsured

Mary Middleton, chief executive officer of Cassopolis Family Clinic Network, said the federally qualified community health center is about to finalize a deal to acquire a vacant building at 122 Grant Street that will become Niles Community Heath Center — Dental.

Mary Middleton, chief executive officer of Cassopolis Family Clinic Network, said the federally qualified community health center is about to finalize a deal to acquire a vacant building at 122 Grant Street that will become Niles Community Heath Center — Dental.

A new dental clinic focused on serving patients who are either uninsured or on Medicaid is expected to open in Niles before the end of the year.

Mary Middleton, chief executive officer of Cassopolis Family Clinic Network, said the federally qualified community health center is about to finalize a deal to acquire a vacant building at 122 Grant Street that will become Niles Community Heath Center — Dental.

Her announcement came during a committee of the whole meeting

following Monday’s meeting of the Niles City Council. During the meeting, Middleton discussed what CFCN is, what it does for the Niles community and its plans for the future.

In addition to opening a new dental clinic, Middleton said the CFCN wants to build a brand new health center in the City of Niles similar to the one it opened in Cassopolis in 2014.

Although Middleton did not provide many details about the project, she said CFCN is working on it with the city’s Community Development Director Sanya Phillips, the Niles Community Schools and an unnamed developer.

“We would be combining the Niles Community Health Center and our OB (Obstetrics & Gynecology) clinic,” she said. “It is a ways down the road but… we have plans to put a new health center here similar to what we did in Cass.

“We are here to stay and we are committed to taking care of people in the Niles area.”

As for the new dental office, Middleton said they are in the process of finalizing the acquisition of the building from Lakeland Health, which donated the property.

Middleton said they would rehab the building and install as many as 12 dental laboratories inside. They expect to create up to 21 new jobs as a result of the project.

Its focus, Middleton said, will be serving people who are uninsured or on Medicaid.

A community needs assessment, she said, found that there are between 4,000 and 5,000 people in the Niles zip code area who have Medicaid or are uninsured and can’t find a dentist who will accept Medicaid.

“We are not here to put anyone out of business,” she said. “There are a lot of great dentists here in town… we are really here to be a safety net provider to take care of patients that can’t find access because of the type of coverage they have.”

Middleton explained that the CFCN receives a higher rate of reimbursement for Medicare and Medicaid patients than do private practitioners because the CFCN operates under the community health center model.

“That’s why we can afford to take the Medicaid patients,” she said. “Our financial model is kind of the inverse of a private practice.”

The dental clinic is expected to be open by Sept. 1, Middleton said.

Mayor Mike McCauslin, who sits on the CFCN’s board of directors, praised the CFCN for providing a service to an underserved population.

It is pretty exciting,” he said. “I am looking forward to the changes that are coming here to Niles.”

For more information about the CFCN, visit the website cassfamilyclinic.org.

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