High Plains Clinic Observes National Health Center Week

L to R: Laurie Dimitt, Eric Niemeyer, Commissioners Cook and Buxton-Andrade, Shea Emick, Commissioner Tom Grasmick and Marija Weeden-Osborn

The Prowers County Commissioners received a guided tour of the High Plains Community Health Center campus this past Wednesday, August 16th, accompanied by the Center’s Executive Director, Eric Niemeyer, Marija Weeden-Osborn –Alternative Payment and Care Model Manager Colorado Community Health Network out of Denver, Shae Emick – Vice President of Operations and Laurie Dimitt, Vice President of Human Resources.

Osborn was engaging in a visiting tour of health centers in the state, “There are 25 such health centers in Colorado and there are 195 sites throughout the state,” she explained. Niemeyer said the first portion of paperwork to secure a three-year operating grant had just been completed.  “We rely on the $1.5million allocation to cover each three year period and the next portion of the application is due in December.  He noted the center, which employs close to 110 persons, is completing the legal paperwork needed to pave the way for the new pediatric clinic.  “We expect to have our groundbreaking in a couple of weeks, but we needed to finalize all the legalities before we could move ahead.  It’s a little late in the season for construction, but we want to see this accomplished for our clientele.”

Niemeyer added, “Pediatric patients run up to 18 years of age and Dr. Figlio, just last week, was seeing about 37 patients in one day. The average provider will probably have 4,000 cases in a year, but Dr. Figlio is over that at this point in the year.”  The CEO added this was in part to less time needed for some of the very young patients who can be treated quickly, there aren’t as many chronic patients and the efficiency of his staff helps streamline the daily routine and visitation process.

Shae Emick, – Vice President of Operations, explained some of the financial background of the services provided at the Center. “The percentage of poverty for most of our patients is 250%, working with a  $7 to $35 copay eligibility.  This qualifies 60% of the residents in the county for insurance and a sliding fee scale for treatment.  This covers x-rays, bloodwork and office visits, so at this level you can have a low copay of $40 and still receive insurance coverage.”

She explained this is covered by Medicaid, CSP-Plus and Emergency Medicaid for pregnant which allows them to bypass Social Services for an automatic sign-up to receive treatment. “Our outreach service provides care for Baca, Bent, Prowers, Kiowa and even Hamilton Counties where this process is allowed.”

The tour included several health stations including a main office where providers were assisted by two physician’s assistants and a nurse practitioner. The Radiology department is designed for a $7 to $35 copay for most people eligible in the county.  The in-house lab offers next day service on blood test results and the Center offers an in-house medical dispensary for pre-packaged prescriptions which saves some patient’s time waiting for a prescription to be processed.

Niemeyer noted the latest doctor at the Center, Dr. Michaud, has arrived and began practice a week ago.

By Russ Baldwin


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