Rural health care facility data debated

About a dozen volunteers gave input Wednesday that may help garner funding for a health care clinic for underinsured or uninsured Northwest Colorado residents.

A meeting in Hayden identified some health care needs that should be included in a grant application to help harvest federal dollars for a start-up clinic.

"This is the first of several meetings to determine where we want to go," said Sue Birch, executive director of the Visiting Nurse Association.

The VNA wants to develop a steering committee to help the formation of a health care clinic for low-income populations. Some of those people who plan to be on the steering committee attended Wednesday's meeting, however, others interested in helping the cause are encouraged to sign on.

On Wednesday, members identified at least 10 key areas of health care needs in Moffat and Routt County that a clinic could help.

Those were the cancer rate, low birth rate, diabetes, the rate of occupational and environmental hazard exposure, dental disease, teen pregnancy, suicide, elderly population, substance abuse and the rate of respiratory infection.

The creation of a health care clinic could come through different avenues, depending on how an area qualifies.

For the past 40 years, some areas in Colorado have created Community Health Centers. They are nonprofit, and funded mostly by federal and state dollars. Requirements include offering dental, medical and mental health services for a population base of mostly uninsured and Medicaid patients. Only one such clinic is permitted per area.

Rural Health Care Centers are an independent option to serve needy patients. Requirements include centers in rural areas that have a shortage of health care providers. They also are nonprofit ventures that access government money. However there are fewer requirements for health care services and staffing among Rural Health Care Centers.

Although it's unclear yet which type of clinic will be suitable for the area, organizers want to have an application ready to try to get federal funding by December.

Those who want to help to contribute data that may help prove why the area is in need of such a facility should call the VNA at 824-8233.

Amy Hatten can be reached at 824-7031 or ahatten@craigdailypress.com

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