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Adult medical care to begin today at Children’s Clinic

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The North Country Children’s Clinic will begin seeing patients officially in its adult medical clinic today.

Agency officials are calling it a “soft opening,” as for at least the first three weeks the adult medical clinic they will be seeing a limited number of patients.

“This is new staff and a new clinic space, and we want to make sure things are really working right when we open,” said Elaine P. Garvey, marketing director. “We want this to be a good experience for patients when we start, before we’re deluged with patients.”

The adult medical clinic is at 238 Arsenal St., the same site as its pediatric services and the dental program, which has been offered to both children and adults. There are separate entrances for the adult and pediatric clinics.

Mrs. Garvey said so many people have called the Children’s Clinic over the past couple of months that the agency was able to start a waiting list of about 60 people. The adult clinic’s first patients will come from that list, she said, and will have appointments from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesdays and Fridays for the next two weeks. By about the middle of the month the schedule will expand to include 8 a.m. to noon on Tuesdays.

Additional appointment times and days will be added as the adult clinic progresses, and there remains a demand from potential patients.

“Wherever we go, people are excited,” Mrs. Garvey said. “We’ll provide care to anyone who needs it. We pledge to make it an affordable fee.”

No one will be turned away from necessary services for which they cannot pay. The clinic, however, is not a free one. Mrs. Garvey said the agency recently moved its sliding-fee scale down to 10 percent of the cost of a patient visit. If a patient cannot afford that 10 percent fee, the agency will set up a payment plan in an amount that is affordable.

Agency staff members have been told they need to park either at the open lot across from the clinic on Arsenal Street or behind the clinic at an open lot off Coffeen Street. Mrs. Garvey said that will free more parking space for the anticipated increase in patients to the clinic.

While the clinic opens today, there are many other functions that will take place throughout the next few weeks and months, Mrs. Garvey said.

“We just got some of our supplies and they’re being put away,” she said. “We’re also starting electronic medical records with pediatric primary care, and we’ll never have that paperwork in the adult clinic.”

Jennifer Condrey, Children’s Clinic deputy director of health, said the agency also is working toward getting low-cost vaccinations and medications for adult medical clinic patients. She said the clinic will apply for that status in January.

The Children’s Clinic first 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 clinic’s Watertown site and the future Lewis County location to become federally qualified health centers.

With an adult primary care designation, behavioral health and substance abuse services must be offered, so the clinic eventually will offer those services. Executive Director Collene D. Alexander said contracts with partner agencies are being negotiated, and she hopes some will be in place within the next 30 days. She said that remains one of the agency’s top priorities.

“I think it’s exciting there’s another option for really good-quality health care,” said Tammy L. Bell, licensed practical nurse in the adult clinic. “No one should have to go without.”

Adults who would like to become a new patient of the adult medical clinic can call the office at 782-9903.

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