Rick Bannan / email@example.com
U.S. Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler got a first-hand look at the new operations space of a free local clinic at Battle Ground as she toured the facility after securing $320,000 in federal funding to help the clinic to develop.
On March 22, Herrera Beutler, R-Battle Ground, visited the Battle Ground HealthCare location at 1910 SW Ninth Ave. which opened in November. Earlier this month, the congresswoman’s office announced that the Labor, Health, and Human Services Appropriation Bill for Fiscal Year 2022 had passed Congress and was awaiting President Joe’s signature. Biden.
The bill included $320,000 for the clinic. This federal funding will support renovations and upgrades to allow the clinic to expand its services to its uninsured, underinsured, chronically ill clients who are at 300% or less of the federal poverty level.
The funding comes months after the clinic underwent its biggest change since it started operating about a decade ago.
“We are really, really blessed to have made this great transition to this wonderful facility,” said Sue Neal, executive director of Battle Ground HealthCare.
The clinic’s previous facility was a former nursing home located northeast of 189th Street in Meadow Glade. While the facility served its purpose for years, Neal said they needed an improved space in order to increase safety when the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
Now, BGHC has set up operations in the former Legacy Health clinic near the intersection of State Road 503 and Eaton Boulevard.
“For years I drooled over this building,” Neal said.
Neal said BGHC was able to make the move with about $2.5 million in grants, including nearly $1.5 million from Community Development Block Grant funding distributed in Clark County and another about $1 million from the state capital budget.
As for the $320,000 in the appropriations bill, Neal said the clinic generally doesn’t receive federal funding. She said when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, she researched how to provide a safe environment for clinic volunteers, staff and patients.
Ingrid Dankmeyer, grant writer for Battle Ground HealthCare, said funding the credits was one of the first opportunities she pursued for the clinic when she started working with them a year ago.
“It all fell into place very quickly,” Dankmeyer said.
She said BGHC is the only free clinic west of Ohio to receive funding in the appropriations bill.
“For us to be able to have this type of federal posting is a huge boost that we never dreamed of,” Dankmeyer said.
In its new location, Battle Ground HealthCare was able to expand its scope of care. Now the clinic can handle medical and dental care, as well as rehabilitation, including occupational and physiotherapy, speech, medical massage and chiropractic care.
The clinic’s new location includes four medical examination rooms, four medical rehabilitation rooms and four dental suites. Other features include a prep kitchen to support the clinic’s healthy cooking classes that will return as the pandemic subsides, and a grant-funded rapid ultraviolet sanitizer to clean the facility as needed.
Neal said the clinic has about 140 volunteers and seven paid staff. It is returning to pre-pandemic levels with 2,000 patient visits per year.
Although BGHC’s budget in 2021 was $460,000, Neal said it will increase to nearly $800,000 due to the new location.
During the tour, Herrera Beutler noticed the free dental resource. Neal said the clinic was able to provide dental care for emergency visits when COVID-19 restrictions halted elective procedures.
“The dental piece is terrifying if you’re in need and can’t afford it,” Herrera Beutler said.
The congresswoman was surprised by the extent of care provided by the clinic that went far beyond the typical “bumps and bumps”.
“To be able to have ongoing services like rehab is a big deal,” Herrera Beutler said.
BGHC’s location is also an advantage, as residents of northern Clark County are further removed from services provided closer to Vancouver.
Herrera Beutler, who serves on the House Appropriations Committee, said the funding mechanism is member-directed spending, which allows lawmakers to highlight programs that are unlikely to achieve a level of visibility for be funded by other means.
“Would you rather have an unelected bureaucrat in Washington, D.C. decide whether or not this worthy organization receives funding…or would you rather have your congressman – who lives in this community and knows they serve a real need – is fighting for this?” said Herrera Beutler. “It’s a great example. This money makes a big difference here.