By Tim Leeds/Havre Daily Newsfirstname.lastname@example.org
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has awarded a grant to Sweet Medical Center to increase the number of people the medical center can treat.
"I think within the next couple of weeks we'll have some spending money," said Karen Bradway, administrator of Sweet Medical Center.
The center is in the middle of filling out the paperwork and confirmation notices for the $608,333 grant. Chinook's clinic was one of 31 across the country that received part of the $16 million grant.
The award is the first part of a two-year grant. Bradway said the center will receive about $650,000 next year. It is an ongoing grant after next year, although the amount might change, she said.
A primary use of the money will be to implement a sliding fee scale, Bradway said.
"The intent of the grant is to improve the health status of the uninsured and underinsured in Blaine County," she said.
Although the amount charged for the medical services will remain the same, the patient's obligation will be determined by income, based on the federal poverty scale. Insurance and government aid like Medicare and Medicaid will also be considered.
The grant will be used to pay the difference between the patient's obligation and the actual amount charged, Bradway said.
Up to $150,000 of the grant can be used for facility repairs and equipment. Bradway said the center will use some of the money for repairs, including replacing the carpeting. The clinic's carpet is so ragged that it's becoming a safety hazard, she said.
Some of the money might be used to buy a new X-ray machine and some laboratory equipment.
"Right now we're just gathering information as to what things cost and what will fit into the budget," she said.
The center will hire a case manager using the grant money, she said. The manager will help coordinate the patient's needs with other agencies and health care providers.
An additional nurse and physician will be hired next year using money from the grant, Bradway said.
The clinic, a primary care family practice facility with no inpatient or surgical services, opened in 1981.