A $150,000 three-year grant to help Boone County Community Clinic track the health of its clients has been in limbo pending a solution to the federal budget crisis but now appears to be a certainty.
The clinic administration was told Sept. 20 it had been awarded the grant. But then the federal government shut down, so they’ve been waiting to receive the money, said clinic Executive Director Dr. Bambi McQuade-Jones.
“We’re in a holding pattern,” she said last week before legislators went back to work. Now, McQuade-Jones said, “Everything is fine. There are no changes to the grant, and we feel confident that everything will go well. We’re very excited and honored for this opportunity.”
The clinic was the only agency in Indiana, and one of only 40 organizations nationwide, to receive one of the “small health care provider quality improvement grants” from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, McQuade-Jones said. The money will be distributed through the HHS’s Health Resources and Services Administration, she said.
“It’s for quality improvement through the use of electronic medical records and managing patient outcomes,” McQuade-Jones said. “It’s about managing chronic disease and preventing it through systematic management of medical records.”
The grant will allow the clinic to hire someone full time for a “nurse informatics” position, she said. That will help the clinic create reports that ensure patients are receiving the treatments they need, whether it’s diagnostic testing such as mammograms and blood draws, or ensuring the prescriptions those clients are taking are not contraindicated.
“It’s all about the high quality of medical care you can get through electronic medical records,” McQuade-Jones said, adding that patients will also be able to access their records so they can truly be engaged in their care.
The clinic is preparing to move into a larger building at 416 W. Camp St., next to its existing facility at 404 W. Camp St. Transferring equipment will begin Oct. 31 and last through Nov. 3, she said.
“I think we’re going to see some patients on that Saturday, to see how the system works,” McQuade-Jones said.
An open house is planned for 4-7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 6, at the new location.
Another financial benefit will allow the clinic to adjust the fees it charges clients. The Boone County Council authorized — pending final approval by the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance — $50,000 for the clinic’s 2014 budget.
Before the council’s contribution, the clinic had offered a sliding scale only to patients visiting the clinic between 5 and 8 p.m. Now that scale is available for patient appointments during all hours, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, and 8 a.m. to noon Saturday, McQuade-Jones said.
“That sliding scale is dictated by the state, based on federal poverty guidelines,” she said. Generally, the charge is between $30 and $50. “People can qualify for additional discounts, depending on their income.
“If people are unable to pay their fees, there are payment arrangements,” McQuade-Jones said. “They just need to set it up with our office manager, Amanda Dickey, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 765-482-4442.”
The sliding scale is available to uninsured Boone County residents; proof of residency and income are required. A flat rate is charged uninsured patients who live outside Boone County.
Patients with insurance who have a co-pay must present an insurance card; co-payments are collected at the appointment. Payment may be made by cash, check, credit or debit card.
Insured patients who have no co-pay are also required to bring their current insurance card for verification.