Nonprofit clinic signs lease with Pattie Dodson Center

Melissa Crowe By Melissa Crowe

Sept. 24, 2012 at 4:24 a.m.
Updated Sept. 25, 2012 at 4:25 a.m.

A federally funded health clinic will soon move into the Dr. Pattie Dodson Public Health Center, returning service to patients caught in the closure of Victoria Regional Maternal Child Health Center.

Community Health Centers of South Central Texas already is booking appointments for its Oct. 1 start date. Now that Victoria County commissioners voted Monday to cancel the lease agreement Citizens Medical Center had for its space at the Dodson center, Community Health Centers is focusing on moving in Friday and getting to work.

County Judge Don Pozzi said the move is "good news and good for Victoria."

"They'll handle Medicare, Medicaid, and the non-insured," he said. "They're providing all the services and more that were previously provided by Citizens Medical Center's clinics."

Community Health Centers began as a volunteer clinic with one part-time physician and a nurse in 1966. Since then, it has expanded to more than 90 full- and part-time employees in Gonzales, Luling and Seguin. It is a federally qualified health center - a "safety" net provider that focuses on the indigent and uninsured population, but is for all residents.

Federally Qualified Health Centers have been around since 1991. According to the U.S. Department of Human and Human Services, they provide primary care services regardless of a patient's ability to pay. Fees are based on a sliding scale.

Henry Salas, chief executive officer of Community Health Centers, said they have been looking at Victoria since 2008.

"There was a lot of concern for the women of Victoria because of that program (University of Texas Medical Branch) going away," Salas said. "In some cases, we offer a few more services to women than UTMB was offering."

He said UTMB's closure and Community Health Center's opening "was a coincidence."

"Thank God we were able to be there when we found out UTMB was closing," Salas said.

Since UTMB closed its women's clinic, the Gonzales location for Community Health Centers has seen about 1,800 patients from the Victoria area.

Salas said the opening of the Victoria center will offer some relief not only for the Gonzales clinic, but also for patients who traveled about an hour both ways to see a doctor.

"There was an opportunity for us to start meeting our needs right away," Salas said. "We are bringing with us many state grants: family planning grants, breast and cervical cancer grants, maternal and dental grants that pays for kids who don't qualify or weren't able to apply for CHIP."

He said the clinic will not duplicate grants that the health department or another medical facility has.

The clinic already has one person who has submitted an application to be on the board and is looking for four others, who Salas hopes are patients of the clinic. The clinic is also accepting applications for licensed vocational nurses and medical assistants.



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