By Stan Friedman
DETROIT, MI (June 20, 2012) – Covenant Community Care (CCC) will receive $868,000 in a new federal grant announced by U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius after she toured the nonprofit today.
Detroit-area Evangelical Covenant Church congregations and Covenant Ministries of Benevolence operate the nonprofit, which has clinics in three main locations as well as a small school-based site. The clinic provides care to the underserved and offers integrated medical, dental and behavioral health care to nearly 10,000 patients annually.
The funds will enable CCC to start another clinic on the city’s east side near Hope Community Covenant Church. The clinic has four months to complete remodeling of an existing building, said Bob Hoey, pastor of Messiah Church, a Covenant congregation.
The federally qualified health center will see 8,000 unique patients, 20,000 visits with at least six medical and dental providers by the end of 2013.
Sebelius made the announcement at the original clinic site just down the street from Messiah. “It was a happy place today,” Hoey said.
The clinics make their neighborhoods better places, said Sebelius, adding that they “are a proven and very wonderful care model.”
Paul Propson, CCC executive director, told the gathering the nonprofit honors the dignity of each person and does more than provide medical services. “Because we believe in this intrinsic equality of every child of God, our doctors seek to overcome every obstacle which our neighbors might find in their way in realizing their potential as individuals, as
mothers and fathers, as students and workers, as neighbors and friends.”
The grant allocated to CCC is part of $128.6 million in federal funds to be distributed to six clinics in Michigan. The money provided under the Affordable Care Act will go to 219 health centers in 41 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the Northern Mariana Islands.
The grants will help expand services and create approximately 5,640 jobs for doctors, nurses and other medical staffers, according to the Obama Administration, including Detroit. “We’ll have to procure a whole new staffing team,” Hoey said.
Hoey said the grant is renewable as long as the clinic follows through with its plans.
Several Covenant churches started the clinic in 2003 after a nurse suggested the need to Hoey, who marshaled the support. Four years later, administrators nearly decided to close the clinic because it was in “dire financial straits.”
Low Medicaid/Medicare reimbursement rates were crippling the center’s ability to operate despite generous donations that included funds from a local hospital and the work of hundreds of volunteers.
The next year, however, invigorated by a new federal grant of $2.3 million, the nonprofit started to expand its services.
The latest funding comes from the second federal grant the clinic has received in the past two months. In May, the nonprofit received a new $500,000 federal grant that will enable it to improve access for people with disabilities and families with small children at one of the facilities. The money also will fund a backup generator and new diagnostic center.
That funding is part of $19.6 million HHS is granting to community health centers throughout Michigan and $728 million across the country.
In total, $11 billion has been allocated over the next five years to community health centers, with approximately $1.5 billion spent on construction and $2 billion spent on operational support to date, said HHS spokesperson Richard Olague. The remaining $7.5 billion will fund ongoing health center activities, build new sites in medically underserved areas, and expand preventive and primary oral, behavioral, pharmacy and enabling health services at existing sites.
The announcements come in advance of a U.S. Supreme Court decision on the constitutionality of portions or the entire healthcare act. That decision is expected later this week or early next week.