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by the numbers

Federal stimulus grant to pay for clinic on west side of Pasco

$1.2m Amount of the grant from the federal stimulus that is helping the clinic open.

120 Number of days the clinic has to open under a grant requirement.

8-10 Number of new jobs the clinic is expected to create.

NEW PORT RICHEY — A new health clinic will open soon in west Pasco, thanks to a $1.2 million piece of the federal stimulus pie.

Premier Community HealthCare Group officials were out Wednesday in search of property in the New Port Richey area to set up a primary care clinic.

The nonprofit company, which has clinics in Dade City and Zephyrhills, receives federal subsidies to provide health care to the uninsured on a sliding fee scale. It also accepts Medicare, Medicaid and private insurance plans.

The practice was one of 126 clinics to receive an award from the new allocations earmarked for health care center expansions.

Susan Hutson, the clinic's director of marketing and development, said the clinic must be up and running soon as part of the grant rules.

"We have to have our doors open in 120 days," she said.

The practice had been in talks with the Harbor Behavioral Healthcare Institute for space, but the mental health hospital had reduced the amount it was offering from 3,000 square feet to about half that.

The new clinic will provide eight to 10 jobs, some of which already are posted on the company's Web site.

Premier, which turned 30 this year, was near the top of a federal list because of a prior application that been had held inactive for a year. The company "has consistently petitioned for funding for a new site on the West side of the county," it said in a news release.

"Fortunately with the passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, this possibility of funding has become a reality," Premier said in a news release. The practice will receive half the grant this year and half next year.

The grant is strictly designated for a new site in west Pasco, Hutson said. It will be closely monitored, and Premier will keep its accounting separate from its other operations.

West Pasco has learned a little more about Premier in recent years as the group also wants to run a primary care clinic for the medically needy at the planned regional hurricane shelter in Hudson. An analysis a few years back showed that west Pasco's uninsured and under insured face huge problems when looking for affordable health care. A ground breaking for the shelter is tentatively scheduled for next month.

State Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, was thrilled with the news.

"It's something I've worked for and dreamt about. It's great for the uninsured and under insured," said Fasano, who reports weekly calls from ill constituents who lack insurance. "Now they will have someplace to go not only when they're sick but a place where they can get their checkups."

"It will mean a lot to a growing community of indigents," said Dr. Marc Yacht, former director of the Pasco County Health Department who now serves on a countywide task force that Fasano heads that is aimed at providing health care to the poor.

Though the grant comes as welcome news to clinic staff, it does nothing to solve the problem of finding speciality care for the uninsured. The clinic got word last week that a $34,0000 county fund used to pay specialists to treat the uninsured had run out of money.

"That continues to be a real bugaboo for us," Hutson said.

On the Web

For more information visit www.premierhc.org or call (352) 518-2000.



to learn more

On the Web

For information visit www.premierhc.org or call (352) 518-2000.

Federal stimulus grant to pay for clinic on west side of Pasco 03/04/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, March 4, 2009 10:19pm]
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