Grant means expanded health care services in Plainfield

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(Host) A health center in Plainfield will expand services to Vermonters thanks to an annual federal grant of more than half a million dollars.

The center becomes the sixth in Vermont to qualify for the federal program.

VPR’s John Dillon reports on what the grant means for patients and their health care providers.

(Dillon) Clinton Adams was waiting in a exam room at the Health Center in Plainfield. He’s got emphysema and he didn’t want his cold to flare up into pneumonia.

(Adams) “If I have a problem they work me right in, no matter how busy they are.”

(Dillon) Adams is 59 and he credits the health center and its director Doctor John Mathew with literally saving his life. He says the medical staff got his diabetes and cholesterol under control. And he doesn’t have to wait weeks for an appointment.

(Adams) “We had four children and one of our children had a baby and whenever that baby, our grandson, had a cold or a problem, we could get him right in, no hesitation, no matter how busy, or no matter who it was in our family. And that is such a wonderful thing today.”

(Dillon) The Plainfield center is the sixth in Vermont to win qualification under a federal program designed to provide care to underserved areas of the country. The designation brings a big infusion of federal funds. For the Plainfield Center, it means about $560,000 a year.

The funding comes as the center is launching a major expansion. The center’s modest clinic off Route 2 is crowded – a conference room doubles as office space and some exam rooms are about the size of a walk-in closet.

Dr. John Mathew helped found the center in 1973. Mathew says the new money means the center can add staff and underwrite care for people without insurance. The center also plans to expand public health and social work programs.

(Mathew) “This money allows us to do some non-revenue producing functions in public health so to speak, in the schools, outreach, social work, education.”

(Dillon) Senator Bernie Sanders has long been an advocate for the federally qualified health centers.
He says his goal is to have one within a short drive of everyone in Vermont, so people have access to primary care, regardless of their income.

(Sanders) “This is quality health care. This is dental care. This is mental health counseling. This is low-cost prescription drugs. And if we can succeed in doing that all over the state of Vermont, we have made a major step forward toward universal health care.”

(Dillon) The six federally qualified centers provide care for about 10 percent of the state’s population. Sanders says a health center in Morrisville is working on its federal certification, while other projects are underway in Windham, Bennington and Addison counties.

For VPR News, I’m John Dillon in Plainfield.

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