Federal funds help N.E.W. Community Clinic expand at NWTC

August 8, 2012

From greenbaypressgazette.com:  “Federal funds help N.E.W. Community Clinic expand at NWTC”– The very week that the nation tips a hat to clinics for the poor, one of those facilities expands its staff, thanks to federal funds.

The N.E.W. Community Clinic at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College on Tuesday marked National Health Center Week with a visit from soon-to-be-retiring Sen. Herb Kohl. Clinic staff members honored the long-serving Milwaukee Democrat with an award for championing health care centers throughout his career.

The clinic is hiring an additional nurse practitioner and two other staffers this week with money Kohl helped get as part of his work on the Senate appropriations committee, said Bonnie Kuhr, CEO and administrator of the clinic who also directs two other clinics in Green Bay. The clinic received about $900,000 through the Affordable Care Act.

“The grant allows us to double our capacity,” Kuhr said.

National Health Care Week celebrates 17 health centers throughout Wisconsin, which have 90 sites, Kohl said. There are 1,100 such health centers around the nation with 8,500 sites. The clinics provide health care for uninsured and underinsured, but they end up helping everyone, Kohl said.

“These are people, many of whom are working but can’t afford insurance, who might not get health care at all, or, if they do, it’d be in the emergency room, where it is many, many times more expensive,” Kohl said. “If it’s here, it may be $40, compared with $800 or $900 in an emergency room. We are deeply indebted to you.”

Mary Rahr, director of the N.E.W. Clinic at NWTC, said that branch has treated more than 20,000 patients in its six years of existence.

The N.E.W. Clinic also has a facility in downtown Green Bay that services low-income individuals and families as well as another that is associated with the Salvation Army on the near northwest side of town, where it provides health care mostly to the homeless.

Gov. Scott Walker was originally scheduled to help the clinic kick off National Health Care Week Monday but canceled following the mass shooting Sunday in a Sikh temple in Oak Creek. Walker, a Republican, has opposed federal health care reform, also called Obamacare, and says he will not implement in Wisconsin changes the law brings to the health care industry.

The position doesn’t necessarily mean he opposes health care centers like N.E.W. clinics, which continue to receive state support as well as federal support, Kuhr said. The NWTC branch of the clinic operates mostly with state and federal money, but was required to raise matching funds to be eligible for the $900,000 federal grant, Kuhr said.



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