North Country Family Health Center (NCFHC) received a $300,000 grant from the United States Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to assist with the expansion of oral health services in Lewis County. NCFHC was one of 298 health centers nationwide to receive funding from the total awarded $85 million granted by HRSA. As one of the 1,400 Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) across the country, NCFHC was eligible to apply for this capital funding designed to expand oral healthcare services across the country.
NCFHC will use the grant money to expand dental services at their Lowville community-based site located within Lewis County General Hospital, 7785 North State Street, Lowville. NCFHC opened its Lowville community-based site in July 2000 and has not expanded or renovated the physical foot-print of the office since inception. NCFHC’s Lowville office is home to both dental services and its Women, Infants, and Children’s (WIC) Program. The capital grant will allow for expansion of the dental area and more efficient use of the space for the WIC Program.
“The HRSA grant will allow us to increase the space dedicated to our dental services by 20% allowing us to serve more patients daily. We will model our renovations after both our LeRay Dental Clinic in Evans Mills, which opened in May 2017, and our main dental facility at 238 Arsenal Street which was renovated in the summer of 2018,” comments Joey Marie Horton, Chief Executive Officer, NCFHC. “Lewis County has significantly fewer dentists per population than other counties in New York State – our renovation will help expand access to services directly within Lewis County.”
Renovations to the Lowville community-based site will begin in 2020 and will add two new dental treatment rooms and a third new clinical office which will allow staff from NCFHC’s Jefferson County location to provide onsite services to patients in Lewis County such as integrated case management and eligibility assistance services (help enrolling in available health insurance and support services). Renovations will also include an expanded lab and sterilization room, a re-designed clean storage room, a panorex x-ray room, and a patient reception area. Once completed the newly renovated clinic is expected to increase access by over 1,000 dental visits per year. NCFHC’s Lowville dental clinic accepts all insurances including patients who are newly enrolled in Medicaid and offers a sliding fee scale to uninsured or insured patients with incomes 200% of poverty and below.
“As part of our strategic plan, we have focused on improving infrastructure within our entire organization as well as making patient accessibility a priority – with this grant we will have the ability to do both,” comments Joey Marie Horton, Chief Executive Officer. “We are committed to ensuring all individuals within Jefferson and Lewis County have access to routine, preventative oral healthcare.”
In 2018, HRSA-funded health centers served more than 6.4 million dental patients, a 13% increase from 2016, and provided more than 16.5 million dental visits. In 2018, NCFHC served more than 7,000 dental patients, a 21% increase from 2016, and provided nearly15,000 dental visits.