A new federally funded health care clinic in Grand Island will start seeing patients on Monday.
Area health care advocates say getting a federally qualified health care (FQHC) clinic in GI has been a project 15 years in the making.
The Heartland Health Center was green lit back in November when funding came through. They'll have three of what will be seven exam rooms ready for patients starting February 24.
A full-time nurse practitioner and part-time doctor will be on staff, as well as an Outreach and Eligibility worker to help patients get signed up for Medicaid, Medicare, or other insurance if needed.
HHC's director says they will help fill a void in rural Nebraska by serving people or families with or without insurance, and those on Medicare or Medicaid. FQHCs use a sliding fee to charge for their services that's based on household size and income.
"There are a lot of people that just do not qualify for Medicaid or Medicare and they can't afford to pay that insurance premium, it's just not there and so we're going to fill that gap for them," says CEO Terri Ford Wolfgram. "We're going to allow them to still be able to see medical providers at a reduced rate."
Board members say HHC will not be like an urgent care facility – they want it to become a place people make their "medical home" and get regular help at.
Plans to work more services like dental are in the works, and they're focusing on getting care started for pregnant women who otherwise have to drive to the federal clinic in Columbus for help.
"Within the next month or so we'll be able to see those moms for their prenatal checks here," says Teresa Anderson, HHC Board Treasurer. "We'll be working closely with area physicians to coordinate that care so that these people can really get the prenatal care they so desperately need."
Other federal clinics see patients from as far as 50 miles away, but in rural Nebraska, officials are expecting to see people from northern Kansas and north central Nebraska. Because of its federal status it doesn't matter where patients live, anyone who goes to the HHC will receive help.
HHC will be the seventh clinic of its kind in the state.