Cherry Street Health Services to develop health center in Wyoming | Health
On June 20, 2012, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Secretary, Kathleen Sebelius, announced nearly $129 million in Health Center new access point funding. Sebelius made the announcement during a stop at Covenant Community Care, a health center located in Detroit. This Affordable Care Act funding will establish new health center sites to care for an additional 1.25 million people in communities across the country.
Cherry Street Health Services here in Kent County is one of six Michigan organizations that have been awarded funding, which will provide $566,667 annually, enabling them to develop a health center in Wyoming. “We are very appreciative of this major investment in expanding the ability of Health Centers to increase access to primary and preventive care in the City of Wyoming,” said Chris Shea, Chief Executive Officer of Cherry Street Health Services.
Cherry Street Health Services provides care for over 55,000 persons annually here in Kent and Montcalm Counties. The health center will be located on Burlingame Avenue between 28th Street and Prairie in the building that formerly housed Classic Chevrolet. Wyoming Community Health Center is expected to serve over 4,000 medical, dental and behavioral health patients by the second year of operations, with room for expansion in future years. As with all of Cherry Street Health Services sites, the emphasis of care is on those with limited access to services due to income. Yesterday’s Washington Post headline read “Census Bureau: Millions more Americans shared households in face of recession.” At the new Wyoming site there will be a specific emphasis on the needs of those who are homeless, particularly those who are “doubled-up” due to financial circumstances. Currently, over 15% of Kent County’s adult population is uninsured.
The grant awards were made possible by the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The health reform law provides funding to double the patient capacity of America’s health centers, from over 20 million people to 40 million. Yet the demand for their services continues to outpace their growth. There are hundreds of communities with pending applications to start a health center, and 60 million people in the U.S. lack access to a primary care provider, including an estimated 1.7 million Michigan residents. The ACA funding will help ensure more people can access the quality, comprehensive primary and preventive health care that health centers offer, which is responsive to community need and provided regardless of an individual’s insurance status or income level.
The ACA investment in health centers also creates more local jobs. Establishing new health care delivery sites means health centers will need a workforce of more doctors, nurses, administrators, and support personnel to help run them. America’s health centers employed more than 138,000 staff in 2011, and they generated millions of dollars in economic benefits in local communities. Today’s funding announcement will create over 5,600 jobs nationwide, including approximately 70 full-time equivalent jobs in Michigan, of which 16 will be employed at the Wyoming site.