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Ohio Health Centers Get $11 Million to Serve More Patients

May 2, 2012

COLUMBUS, Ohio - More Ohioans will be able to receive services through community health centers, as a result of new funding that's part of the Affordable Care Act.

More than $11 million will help five centers in Ohio build or renovate facilities to serve more patients. Kim Talinger, grants and special projects director at Health Partners of Western Ohio, says their grant will be used to expand their pharmacy and upgrade their information technology.

"We're being pushed to do electronic health records and expand services, but in order to really succeed and take health-care services to the next level, we really do need that capital investment into our services and our equipment and facilities."

Cleveland's Care Alliance Health Center is receiving two federal grants, bringing more than $5 million into the area. Chief Administrative Officer Kate Nagel says they're thrilled to be able to expand capacity.

"There is a great need among public housing residents for comprehensive public-health services, and these grants will allow us to reach an additional 12,000 patients, which more than doubles our current reach."

Nagel says the grants should also bring economic activity to the area, not only during the construction phase of the projects but also with additional jobs at the centers. Her center plans to bring on 50 new employees to help meet the growing demand.

Funding from the Affordable Care Act is usually targeted for patient care, but a major federal goal is to double community health-center capacity by 2015. Tom Van Coverden, who heads the National Association of Community Health Centers, says the system is stretched to the max with uninsured and under-insured patients.

"It's already jammed - and so, I think it absolutely will help provide the space that they'll need and help recruit the physicians and nurses that they need to get more care to more people. But the demand is certainly there for more care."

He says community health centers already provide medical, dental and behavioral services for more than 20 million patients, regardless of their ability to pay.

The money allows centers to expand or improve their facilities, and to address pressing equipment needs. Across the nation, grants of more than $728 million have been announced, for projects which should expand health-care access to an additional 860,000 patients.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH