The adult medical clinic within the North Country Children’s Clinic, 238 Arsenal St., will open full time beginning Monday.
Appointments will be available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays to Fridays, and then in January, the clinic will also be open two Saturdays each month. Next week, a nutritionist will begin working with the clinic a few days a week.
“The excitement first is being able to care for people no one else is,” said Dawn Scott, nurse practitioner. “Second is to not have any barriers to care, based on insurance.”
As a federally qualified health center, the clinic must care for anyone who walks through its doors. Patients who are uninsured or under-insured may utilize the agency’s sliding fee scale.
Since the adult clinic opened part time about two months ago, Mrs. Scott and fellow nurse practitioner Valerie Meyers have seen 232 patients. About two-thirds of those patients have had either Medicaid or Medicare.
“We haven’t done any advertising or marketing for this,” said Janice L. Charles, interim executive director and agency co-founder. “It confirms what I’ve known, and what many have known, for years — it’s needed. There were some skeptics in the community, but we’ve been overwhelmed.”
Jennifer Condrey, Children’s Clinic deputy director of health, said the wait time for an appointment is only about eight days.
Donna L. Ransier-VanWaldick, Rodman, said she was one of Mrs. Scott’s first patients when the clinic opened Oct. 3. Mrs. Scott had been Mrs. Ransier-VanWaldick’s practitioner for many years at Mercy Primary Care, 218 Stone St. Like Mrs. Ransier-VanWaldick, Mrs. Scott said many former Mercy Primary Care patients now go to the adult medical clinic because quality care there is just one block away from Mercy Primary Care. Mercy Primary Care is scheduled to close soon.
“When I heard she came here, I said, ‘Darn,’ because I was under the assumption the clinic was for uninsured or under-insured,” Mrs. Ransier-VanWaldick said. “I don’t see a stigma here because I have insurance. My sister has none, and I wish to God she lived here so I could take her here.”
Mrs. Ransier-VanWaldick said she will keep the adult medical clinic as her primary care source for routine health-care needs.
As time allows, the adult medical clinic will offer even more services, such as substance-abuse and alcoholism treatment, as required by its federally qualified health center status. Mrs. Charles said the clinic is in the process of negotiating contracts to partner with area organizations to deliver those required services. The agency, however, is still working toward getting low-cost vaccinations and medications for adult medical clinic patients.
Another component the agency is working on, Mrs. Charles said, is providing medical care to the area’s homeless. She said $200,000 of the $650,000 grant the agency received in June to reach the federally qualified health center status must be dedicated to homeless care. A case manager will be hired to help with that program.
Mrs. Condrey said without the opening of the clinic, many adults would not have care. One patient, she said, walked through the clinic doors after not having received primary care for 14 years.
One of the challenges going forward, Mrs. Charles said, is to keep a fund strong enough to support people who utilize the agency’s sliding fee scale to pay for services. She said the agency anticipated it would provide $500,000 worth of care alone for free to pediatric patients. Community support is always needed, she said.