Work is moving forward to bring a health clinic to McPherson County to assist the medically underserved.

Work is moving forward to bring a health clinic to McPherson County to assist the medically underserved.
A committee organized by Circles of McPherson County, an anti-poverty group, has been working for the last two years toward bringing to McPherson County a clinic that would serve low-income residents.
That project was handed over to a larger community group last fall.
The community group sent out requests for proposals and has received three proposals from providers who already are working with the underserved  in different areas of the state. These clinics have proposed creating a satellite location in McPherson.
The committee did not wish to release the names of the applicants at this time.
However, the clinics that applied need further information to nail down specifics in their business plans, including hours of service, numbers of people who could be served, space needed and types of services that could be provided.
Chad Clark, director of the McPherson Healthcare Foundation and a member of the site review committee, said the committee has applied for a grant through the McPherson County Community Foundation to fund a consultant to provide further research for the applicants.
Clark said on the surface, McPherson County appears to have enough medical providers for its residents.
However, Dr. Rebecca Weller, who is the chairwoman of the site review committee, said she often sees patients in the emergency room who have insurance and can’t get in to see physicians locally.
Members of the Circles organization also have said they have been forced to seek medical care outside McPherson County because local doctors will not accept them as patients.
Some of the patients are being served by clinics for the underserved in other communities. However, Weller said transportation has become a significant barrier keeping many low-income families from receiving adequate care.
Census data indicates McPherson has a Hispanic population of less than 5 percent, but Clark said committee members think that figure is under-reported.
In addition, McPherson has seen a large influx of temporary employees because of work at NCRA on the coker project.
Weller said these long-term temporary workers need care as well.
Clark and Weller also expressed concerns about the age of the medical providers in the community. Some long-time physicians in the area are reaching retirement age, which means McPherson could soon have a need for more physicians.
Although clinics for the medically underserved rely partially on federal funding, they also rely on treating insured patients to pay the bills.
Clark said McPherson has an advantage in that it has a good rate of insured patients who could use the clinic’s walk-in services.
The committee members hope to have a consultant hired in the next couple of weeks. Committee members will then do site tours of the three applicants. Those tours are scheduled to be completed by July 30.
Other members on the site review committee include Rob Monical, McPherson Hospital president; Rebecca Lewis, Circles coach; Fern Hess, McPherson County Health Department director; Larry Hays, retired mental health worker; Nick Gregory, McPherson city administrator; Tom Brown, McPherson mayor; and Dr. Ken Cotton, dentist.
The new clinic may be able to partner with the Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly, which is sent to expand to the McPherson County soon.
PACE is a Medicare program and Medicaid state option that provides community-based care and services to people 55 or older who otherwise would need a nursing home level of care.
The two programs may be able to share space and services, such as lab facility.
The community committee when it met in the fall set a goal for having a new clinic open by September 2015, and Clark said the project is still on schedule to meet that goal.