Weekly Volcano Blogs: Walkie Talkie Blog

April 1, 2009 at 2:20pm

Federal money hits Tillicum

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MATT DRISCOLL: COMMUNITY HEALTH CARE CLINIC TO AVOID CUTBACKS THANKS TO STIMULUS >>>

Whether you agree with “the stimulus” or not â€" or whether you refer to it by its birth name, the American Economic Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 â€" the fact is the money’s starting to flow, and some of the beneficiaries will be local community health centers, which, in turn, means those with limited incomes, a lack of health insurance and medical needs may soon be breathing a little easier in these rocky and uncertain economic times.

Last Friday, March 27, it was announced that Washington state is in line to receive $10 million to expand services at community health services across our state. Locally, Community Health Care â€" a private, nonprofit organization with low cost clinics throughout Pierce County â€" will receive $482,860; and the Metropolitan Development Council, a nonprofit community action partnership that offers programs in education, drug and alcohol treatment, housing and homeless services stands to get a check for $156,087.


That money, and, of course, about $9.4 million more distributed to similar organizations across Washington, is all part of $338 million included in the Recovery and Reinvestment Act for Increased Demands for Services grants (IDS). In times like these, it’s safe and prudent to assume demands for services will increase.


“We’re moving quickly to get Economic Recovery funding working in Washington state communities,” said Senator Patty Murray in a press release touting the spending. “This funding will allow health centers to protect jobs, keep overall health care costs down, and keep their doors open to the local community.”


So how will this translate locally, specifically at Community Health Care â€" a safety net for thousands of low-income patients?


According to Russ Sondker, who works in the marketing and resource development department of Community Health Care, the money will go directly to the agency’s Tillicum clinic â€" which in 2008 served 1,664 patients, half without insurance, and about 1,000 of whom lived at 200 percent of the poverty line or below. Over the next two years the stimulus money will keep the Tillicum clinic in the black.


“What we’re using the money for is operating costs to pay for daily operations,” says Sondker. “The money will fill in that budget deficit (at Tillicum) so we don’t have to make cutbacks.”

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