INCLUDEPICTURE "Image_0" \* MERGEFORMAT The clinic, which recently became its own nonprofit entity, was awarded $650,000 per year for at least two years from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services – an amount that more than doubles the clinic's annual capacity to serves the area's residents.
The Olathe clinic opened in 1993 as an extension of services provided by Montrose Memorial Hospital; that first year, roughly 1,900 patient visits came to its small office.
In 2008, through a partnership with the hospital, Montrose County School District, Center for Mental Health and local physicians, the clinic restructured, becoming a school-based center behind the Olathe Elementary School.
Last year, the clinic had more than 4,800 patient visits.
Its growth and the people it serves – which includes a large migrant-worker population – gave the clinic the extra boost needed to be recognized by the USDHH, said grantwriter Linda Pecore.
With growth came the need for more staff, and the clinic recently hired full-time Manager Debby Harrison-Zarkis, a former Montrose County Health and Human Services case manager for adult protection and services. Working alongside Harrison-Zarkis are three Center for Mental Health employees (two medical assistants and one clinic coordinator), one school district employee, a full-time nurse practitioner and four rotating doctors.
“We could use a larger location,” Harrison-Zarkis said of the center’s current quarters. “It's cramped, with limited space. There is medical equipment in the hallways. We could do so much more with more room.”
The recent grant will help the clinic pay for salaries, equipment and other expenses the clinic will need to continue to operate under its new nonprofit status. It also could help facilitate an expansion, to which end an advisory board is currently discussing options for the clinic, from staying at the school-based location to exploring other possibilities, including new lands and facilities, said Mary Snyder, chief operating officer for MMH.
There are many unknowns, she said, and a move would require applying for more grant funding.
For now, the clinic serves its patients at its present space, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
And as part of its new nonprofit direction, the clinic is taking over the contract for the migrant farmworker voucher program, and providing health care services to the work force population that migrates to the area each year, Snyder said.
The clinic will be adding an oral care component, and continue expanding its behavior and mental health components, all thanks to the recent grant, Pecore said.
“This is the future of health care,” said Jon Gordon, director of the Center for Mental Health, about the partnership that allows for the onsite integration of primary health care for area residents.