County health center to get check-up

The federal agency giving hundreds of thousands of dollars to Wood County’s health center will be in for
a check-up next month.
Awards from the Health Resources and Services Administration may be a continuous source of funding as
Wood County Community Health and Wellness Center expands services and access to primary health care.
The money was expanded during the first year of the grant, effectively totaling a little more than $1
million. The total for the second year is $752,542, according to Ben Batey, Wood County health
commissioner.
The money was used for some renovations to the health center, as well as to boost staffing in order to
ultimately see more clients. But the grant isn’t without a few strings attached.
HRSA officials are scheduled for a three-day visit Dec. 16 to 18, when they’ll be reviewing the board
that oversees the health center and the operations of the clinic. There will be a four-person team of a
project officer and three others who focus on clinical practices, finance, and board governance, Batey
said.
"Each of those individuals will take the sections that they are a specialist in and look at us from
that perspective," he said.
"This will be our first site visit ever, so I imagine they’ll have a lot of recommendations of ways
that we can improve the agency."
A conference call is scheduled Monday to learn more about the visit, but Batey said he’s not expecting
any radical reaction should some things prove to be out of order when HRSA is here.
"We’ve come a long way from when we first started" implementing the grant, "but we’ve
never had any official guidance on what we were doing, so we were doing things the best that we
could," he said.
"They’re putting the money out, and they want us to succeed. They want us to see as many patients as
possible, responsibly and appropriately, so that we continue to grow and serve the need in the
community."
There will be an entrance conference at 9 a.m. Dec. 16, where HRSA officials will review what health
center managers and board members should expect of the process. They will then oversee the health center
board’s meeting at 2 p.m. Dec. 17 and offer training afterward to correct any inconsistencies they
observed. And on Dec. 18, HRSA will detail their findings during an exit conference.
The initial grant cycle which began late last year runs for two years. Afterward, competing agencies can
apply for that funding, effectively requiring the first recipient to prove they’re still the best option
for HRSA to expand access to health care within the service area. The money is not frequently lost by
those who win the award, though a Community Health Services clinic in Stoney Ridge is a possible
challenger. If the grant is renewed to the center operated by the county health district, it would then
receive site visits once per cycle.
"From then on you’re in the three-year rotation, and at some point during those three years, they
need to come for a site visit," Batey said.