Feds underwrite 5 new health centers in state

Kathleen Sebelius
Kathleen Sebelius

Federal officials have awarded $19 million nationally to create new health care centers, including five in Georgia.

The health centers will increase access to preventive and primary care, Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, said Friday in a statement.

The new Georgia health centers will be in Baldwin, Polk, Chattooga, Taylor and Houston counties.

“They are all high-need areas and represent an additional step in the right direction of having more services for the uninsured and underinsured in those areas and good working relationships with their respective hospitals,’’ Duane Kavka, executive director of the Georgia Association for Primary Health Care, said Saturday.

Their parent organizations – in Greensboro, Trenton, Richland and Macon – are federally qualified health centers, and will share funding of $2.6 million.

FQHCs serve underserved areas, offer a sliding fee scale, and provide comprehensive health services.

The federally qualified health center based in Trenton will be running the Polk and Chattooga sites, said Kavka of GAPHC, which has 28 organizations operating more than 140 health centers.

The Baldwin and Chattooga sites had previously received start-up funding from the state, Kavka said.

Nationwide, 32 FQHCs received a combined total of $19 million. Kavka noted that Georgia’s four centers funded were the most in any state in this round of federal grants.

Federal officials also announced that $48 million more will be shared among all federally qualified health center organizations.

“Health centers have a proven track record of success in providing high quality health care to those who need it most,” said Sebelius. “New health center sites in some of the neediest communities in the country will provide access to health care for individuals and families who otherwise may have lacked access to high quality, affordable and comprehensive primary care services.”