- Published: Tuesday, 26 April 2016 11:17
By Cheryl Splain, KnoxPages.com reporter
MOUNT VERNON — Greater accessibility to health care is on the horizon if the Knox County Health Department receives the designation of a federally qualified health center.
“A federally qualified health center is a center that serves anybody in the community, and it has to provide physical health care, behavioral health care, dental health care and social service resources,” Health Commissioner Julie Miller told city council members on Monday. “We fully expect to be awarded the federal monies.”
The grant application is due July 15. A center board has been meeting since December to start the process. Miller said that becoming a federally qualified health center brings a number of benefits:
- Jobs for Mount Vernon and Knox County
- A grant income, guaranteed for life, of $650,000 for operations
- Enhanced reimbursement from Medicaid
- Waiver of liability for health care providers
- Forgiveness of student loans if the health care provider practices in the center for two to four years
- Service for everyone regardless of inability to pay
- Fills a gap in health care for Knox, Coshocton, Holmes and Guernsey counties
- “So there are a lot of benefits outside of my passion that everybody in this community has access to good health care,” she said. “It’s not that we don’t have it, we just don’t have everybody receiving access to it.”
Miller will be chief executive officer of the center; her goal is to hire a chief operating officer so that she can concentrate on her health commissioner duties.
Miller also told council that on May 21 the KCHD will “push the button” for national accreditation. There are 11 accredited departments in Ohio. “We hope to be in probably the next 10,” she said, adding that the department expects to submit about 700 documents in addition to undergoing a site visit.
- Other highlights from Miller’s report include:
- A reduction in animal bites in the city between 2014 and 2015, although Miller said there are too many unvaccinated animals in the county
- Financial stability
- A reduction in immunizations in 2015 compared to 2014 because there was no measles outbreak
- An increase in nuisance investigations
- A new dentist has been hired for the dental clinic; the department is recruiting another dentist.
- Home health is doing well but it is difficult to get reimbursement.
- Drug Take-Back Day is April 30.
Miller gave a few tips on how to prevent the Zika virus: Wear long sleeves and long pants when outside, use insect repellant with DEET and avoid having standing water in birdbaths, tires and gutters.