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VA Gets More Than $5.7 Million in New Federal Funding for Community Health

March 5, 2009

Richmond - Virginia is preparing to receive more than $5.7 million in federal stimulus money, dedicated to building new community health centers and supporting existing ones. The funding, announced Monday, is expected to help serve an additional 24,000 Virginians, whether or not they have the ability to pay.

Rick Shinn, director of public affairs for the Virginia Community Healthcare Association, says the new centers will be located in Prince William County, Caroline County, Leesburg, and in the Richmond area. In all, the expansion of Virginia's community health center system is expected to create 180 new jobs.

"The health centers will be looking for doctors, nurses, professional staff, support staff; all the components of any type of health center that they would need to put into place. This means they'll be hiring in their local communities."

Currently, community health centers provide primary care to 240,000 Virginians each year, says Shinn.

"Sometimes people think we're only for the uninsured, but we actually try to work with anybody in the community, regardless of their ability to pay. So, we get the uninsured, and we also get insured patients. We take Medicaid and Medicare. Everyone can get health care."

Not all of Virginia's community health centers receive federal funds, but all do provide health care to any Virginian who requests it, adds Shinn.

During the current economic downturn, community health centers across Virginia report an 18-percent increase in the number of uninsured patients. The state currently has 102 community health center sites.

Aries Keck, Public News Service - VA