Havre Daily News
Sometimes it takes a stranger bearing bad news to get people to listen, one such messenger told Bullhook Clinic staff on Wednesday.
“People will listen to folks that they don't see everyday. That's just human nature,” Oliver Delk said.
Delk, an assistant grant director, had the task of bringing bad news to Havre.
Funding for the Bullhook Clinic has been cut. Many residents knew the information already but didn't want to acknowledge it, he said.
“We all know that August 31, it's over unless things drastically change,” he said to the clinic's grant management team Wednesday. The clinic's first year of funding will end at the end of August.
Cindy Smith, executive director of Bullhook Clinic and director of nursing for the Hill County Health Department, said the management is working on a plan that will include the elimination of some jobs at the clinic.
Bullhook Clinic employs a dozen people, including a clinical nurse, an operations manager, a data analyst and a nurse practitioner.
“It's not about cutting - it's about sustaining what we do have with the funds we have. It's not about making decisions on who we let go but what we can sustain,” Smith said.
Smith said the clinic's workers will be working on forging partnerships with local entities and collecting data.
Clinic operations manager Lori Evans, will attend a workshop in Delk's hometown of Atlanta next week. The meetings is set up to help the 30 communities that lost their funding sustain their services for as long as possible. The cost of the trip will be covered by the Health Resources and Services Administration.
Evans said she hopes to share strategies and information with members of other clinics.
“I am looking forward to seeking out other rural communities and gleaning information,” she said.
Delk, director of community partnerships and fund development with the Fulton County Department of Health and Wellness in Atlanta, has been in Havre the last two days to facilitate meetings with the community, health care workers and the clinic's staff.
“There is still a need for the services whether there is a grant or not. You have no grant,” Delk said.
Hill County Commission chair Kathy Bessette said hearing the news put so bluntly was a shock.
“When (Delk) said ‘You have no grant' that was so final. I kept thinking there's a hope the funding would come through,” Bessette said.
“We've been begging, writing and calling,” she said of the commission's efforts to secure money for the clinic.
In December the clinic lost its second year of funding from a $1.7 million Healthy Communities Access Planning grant as a result of an appropriations act adopted by Congress. The clinic has received $980,000 for its first year. The clinic began receiving funding from the Health Resources and Services Administration grant in September and opened its doors on Dec. 19.
The clinic's staff said the public needs to know that this is the time to take advantage of the services offered by the facility and not to discontinue treatment in fear that the clinic will close its doors. The clinic has had more than 175 patients since it opened in December.
“We are open for business and the clinic is for everybody,” clinic spokesperson Pam Burke said today.
In order to add revenue the clinic has extended its hours by adding another 12-hour day. It is now open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Thursday. To make an appointment call the clinic at 265-5481 ext. 266.
The largest percentage of clients seen by the clinic are uninsured or underinsured patients.
“We need to build up (family nurse practitioner Connie White's) client base so she can continue to see all of her patients,” Smith said.
The clinic, which is located in the Hill County Courthouse Annex building on Fourth Avenue, sees all categories of patients - not only those without insurance but those with Medicare, with Medicaid, and with insurance. A co-payment for services is determined on a case-by-case basis depending on the patient's household income. The clinic offers primary care, health and wellness exams, sports physicals, and assistance with management of chronic illnesses like diabetes and high blood pressure. Vouchers for dental work also are available through the clinic.