Representatives from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services - Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) were on the Western Slope on Wednesday to deliver a big announcement, centering around healthcare in Olathe.
The Olathe Community Clinic will receive $650,000 of funding for at least the next two years.
It's all part of a provision in the Affordable Care Act that expands healthcare coverage to Americans by bolstering community health centers across the country. Colorado received a total of around $3 million in grants. Officials say 20,000 Coloradoans will gain better access to healthcare as a result.
"This is a proven model, supported across the spectrum politically, shown to work in major medical journals. This is a great way to deliver care," said Patrick Gillies of the HRSA at the announcement on Wednesday.
"We'll get additional reimbursement from the Federal Government to assist in the care that we do provide because we are willing to accept all payer sources for the patients that we serve," said Mary Snyder, of the Montrose Memorial Hospital, which operates Olathe's clinic.
Medicare, Medicaid and private insurance are all accepted at the clinic, which also works to cover the uninsured.
That was an important criteria for funding.
But the clinic's acceptance of all payer sources has also resulted in huge growth. When it moved to its current location three years ago, it was seeing about 1,900 patient visits. That number bloomed to 4,800 last year according to Snyder.
"That's also why we are also looking more staff to our clinic and have recently hired a new full-time director for the clinic," she added.
It's not just more staff they need, but more room to operate. The clinic's hallways are filled with equipment that just can't be stored elsewhere.
"What our biggest need is at the clinic right now is space. Because our volume has increased so much over the last three years, we are basically bulging at the seems."
The plan is to expand, either on the property it shares with the school district or elsewhere.
"This has been a long time coming. A lot of anxiety and a lot of hope because we serve a lot of patients that will truly benefit from this announcement," Snyder said.
Also on the Western Slope, the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association in Craig received a $600,000 grant.