GREENVILLE — Family Health Service of Darke County recently became the recipient of more than a million dollars in federal grants that will be put to good use to improve medical service for the residents of the county.
“This is truly tax dollars working for the people who pay taxes,” Jean Young, executive director of Family Health Service of Darke County, said of the grants.
Family Health was awarded a $1 million Health Infrastructure Investment Grant and a $299,962 Expanded Services Award.
The funding comes from the Health Center Expanded Services fund and Health Infrastructure Investment Program. The Health Center Expanded Services fund — made possible through the Affordable Care Act — helps increase access to medical. oral, behavioral, pharmacy and vision care. It also supports outreach and enrollment activities to help more people enroll in health care coverage. The Health Infrastructure Program allows health centers to renovate or acquire new health center clinical space to help community needs.
“Local health centers are critical access points for Ohioans in need of quality, affordable health care,” said Sen. Sherrod Brown in a recent release. “Funding from the health law helps keep open community health centers so more families can access their primary and preventive care. These awards will allow centers to hire more health providers, improve facilities and enroll more Ohioans in health care coverage.”
Young said the $1 million grant was the highest amount possible for that category of grant, and it will directly benefit an underserved area in Darke County. The infrastructure grant will go toward building a new doctor’s office in New Madison.
“Wayne HealthCare, which is always very supportive of Family Health, gave us the site and when they found asbestos and other issues in the building, Wayne paid to have the building taken down.”
Modular units were set up at the site to house a temporary office for Dr. Sherry Adkins, who was eager to practice in New Madison. The grant money will allow Family Health to construct a new permanent building to house her office.
The building will be designed “like a mini Family Health,” Young said, consisting of a suite with six exam rooms, featuring environmentally friendly elements such as LED lighting, auto on-off faucets and auto on-off lights, as well as geothermal heating.
“These are very cost effective systems as well as environmentally friendly,” Young said.
Young said Family Health has met with the architects, and the construction of the building will soon be bid out. They are hoping for groundbreaking sometime around February with the building to be completed about a year from now.
The Expanded Services Award will be used largely to expand dental service at the Greenville Family Health office, Young said. There are currently nine dental chairs at the office and three more will be added.
Young explained that the dental director at the office is an adjunct professor at OSU, which enables him to bring dental students to Greenville to practice. The additional space will give the student, currently in his last year of dental school, a place to work in the busy office.
“They learn to love us, then they can come back,” Young said, said of encouraging more dentists to come work in the county.
The funds also will allows Family Health to bring in two nurse care coordinators as well as an additional pharmacist. One of the current pharmacists will be practicing as a comprehensive medication management pharmacist, meaning that she will be able to take two full days a week to serve the patients by reviewing, evaluating and synchronizing their prescriptions.
Young stressed the importance of having a pharmacist available to consult on prescriptions to help eliminate overmedicating and drug interactions for patients with multiple care providers. She also will be able to synchronize prescriptions so patients with multiple, long-term prescriptions can pick them all up at the same time.
Young said the grants will cover the start-up costs that had prevented these expansions, but they will be self-sustaining financially once they are put in place.
Reach the writer at 937-569-4354 or on Twitter @RachelLloydGDA.