Summit County: Community clinic prepares for health care changes |

Summit County: Community clinic prepares for health care changes

Robert Allen
Summit County, CO, Colorado

SUMMIT COUNTY – The Summit Community Care Clinic for un- and underinsured people living or working here will be among health centers facing changes when the national healthcare reform legislation becomes effective.

“That’s going to have huge implications,” assistant county manager Steve Hill said at a work session Tuesday.

The nonprofit clinic has operated since 1993 and serves roughly 5,000 patients per year. There are about 28 to 30 clinics across the state operating similarly to the one in Summit.

Clinic executive director Sarah Vaine said her office is working with other health care providers to “work collectively to make sure all needs are taken care of.”

“Our mission is to be a safety net and help those people that don’t have care other places,” adding that the clinic could change which plans it serves depending on which people appear to be the least-served.

By 2014, most U.S. citizens will be required to have insurance coverage or face fines.

“I don’t know how it’s going to look,” said Deb Crook, the clinic board’s president and county public health director.

Issues include a possible shortage of doctors and whether the reform levels the field of people who can afford “high-end care,” she said.

Hill said county officials are to meet privately next month to discuss how health care reform may affect the community. Many of the federal regulations haven’t been written, so the particulars remain unclear.

Meanwhile the clinic offers health and dental services in large part from governmental contributions.

Gov. Ritter on Monday announced $50,000 for the clinic from the Colorado Rural Health Care Grant program. Grants of more than $1 million were distributed through the program, and Summit received the largest amount possible.

The other clinics received at least $5,000.

“The big celebration for us is the purchase of an ultrasound machine,” Vaine said. “It can be very expensive for uninsured patients to use an ultrasound.”

She said a qualified volunteer is already waiting to begin using the machine on patients. The other half of the grant money is to be used on training and information technology.

The clinic’s funding sources are broken down among state and local government (44 percent), patient fees (24 percent), foundations (14 percent) donations (8 percent) and the federal government (5 percent), among others, according to

Demand for services climbed last fall when H1N1 influenza swept through the community. This coupled with budget reductions of nearly 10 percent led the clinic to stop seeing new patients for a few months.

Robert Allen can be contacted at (970) 668-4628 or

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