The North Country Childrens Clinics administrative team is willing to learn as the agency grows into a central primary care provider for local families.
With an early October opening of its adult primary care services at its 238 Arsenal St. office only about a month away, administrators said they are soaking up information and implementing new ideas as they move into a well-rounded, federally qualified health center.
Jennifer Condrey, deputy director of health, said the adult clinic will start off part time. There will be an eventual buildup of hours and days, so staff can get used to the operation.
Well be coordinating with a lot of different services within the community, she said. Well also be starting out with electronic medical records, and were going to be doing patient satisfaction surveys as to what they need. A lot of its going to be a growing period.
The clinic announced June 21 that it received a $650,000 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services grant that will fund expansion of clinic operations, including the opening of a family clinic in Lewis County. The grant will allow the clinics Watertown site and the future Lewis County location to become federally qualified health centers. Already serving childrens medical, dental and mental health needs, the clinic also will care for adults, regardless of ability to pay.
With an adult primary care designation, behavioral health and substance abuse services must be offered, so the clinic also eventually will offer those services.
They also want us to (identify) health and social barriers for people, said Amy L. Langone, the clinics director of health services. They want us to work with partnering to get the full comprehensive services they need.
Services may be offered in-house, through partner agencies or through referrals, she said.
The name change of the Childrens Clinic to the North Country Family Health Center, which is pending state approval, is designed to attract more of the adult population to seek care at the clinic, administrators said.
The clinic already provides dental and WIC services for adults. Marketing Director Elaine P. Garvey said the transformation into a federally qualified health center is simply a continuance of service weve provided for a while.
Addition of new adult services ideally will make the clinic a one-stop shop for health care, Executive Director Collene D. Alexander said.
We want to be the provider of choice, regardless of what you do for a living, she said.
Finance Director Jennifer M. Crestani said another large component of the transformation is what fees will be set for service.
Weve always offered a sliding fee scale to our clients, she said. Well also offer that to people who have insurance that doesnt cover all of their visit.
Mrs. Alexander said theres a misconception that the adult clinic will be free, but that is not the case. Nominal fees also will be set for various services, but the Childrens Clinic will work with clients on payment plans, she said.
Other components of the new federally qualified health center will include targeting the areas homeless population and familiarizing staff with a federal drug discount program.