The Family Health Center on Vandiver Drive in Columbia is on the road to recovery.
After undergoing a reduction in staff in January, the center recently received an $816,070 grant from the federal Health Resources and Services Administration as part of a recovery plan. The final goal of the plan is to make the center financially sound and to expand the center to provide more services.
The center provides medical services to more than 9,000 uninsured or underinsured Missourians each year.
“Even with all the doctors and hospitals and all the medical services available in central Missouri, if you’re uninsured, they’re unaffordable, so there’s a barrier in access to care,” said Gloria Crull, executive director of the Family Health Center.
It is the only community health center in the area; the closest is in Kirksville, about 90 miles away, Crull said.
The center was strapped for money because it lost funding from University of Missouri Health Care and federal funds for behavioral services; the funds had been a sizeable portion of the center’s budget. Crull said the new grant will fund the continuation of medical services such as prenatal care, immunizations, screenings, chronic disease care and annual exams.
“It’s a human service organization, so the majority of the expense is staffing,” Crull said.
Earlier this year, the federal government sent a financial advisor to the center to help it create a recovery plan. As a result, the center had to downsize by 51 percent in January, cutting staff and mental health services.
“In order to save the medical side, we had to reduce the mental health services,” Crull said. “If we didn’t downsize and implement the recovery plan, we were at risk of losing our federal funding.”
The center has also received assistance from numerous community organizations, such as the Boone Hospital Center Foundation, which gives an annual $135,000 gift to the center.
Renee Hulshof, executive director of the foundation, said keeping a place like Family Health Center alive and well is important because without it, uninsured people in need of medical attention end up in the emergency room instead.
The federal grant puts the center in a position to build toward financial stability and prepare for its move to the old Nowell’s location on Nifong Boulevard. The move is planned for July 2004 and will double the amount of square footage of space and number of examination rooms, from 15 to 30.
Keith Schnarre, presiding commissioner of Boone County, said the county is renovating the new Family Health Center building and will rent the space to the center “at below market rate.”