Health Services of North Texas is now a federally qualified health center. The agency also received a $595,833 grant to help improve the services it provides to Denton County residents.
“It increases our capacity to help people who need us,” said CEO Ronald Aldridge. “The county has never had that kind of credentials. It’s very hard to get.”
Those credentials facilitated the agency getting the grant, made available by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The agency applied for the classification in 2010, Aldridge said, and agency officials have since been working to attain the distinction.
The agency provides a host of services to about 2,000 patients per year. Officials expect the number of patients to double over the next several years.
“We will be able to fiscally handle that growth,” Aldridge said.
Doreen Rue, deputy director, said the funds will help the agency achieve its goal of providing a wide range of services under one roof.
“We have high-quality care, compete in the market and we want to be a destination source for medical care,” she said.
Marjorie Petty, Region 6 director for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, was on hand Thursday to tour the facility and congratulate Aldridge and his staff on receiving the classification.
“This is a great example of the local and federal partnership,” Petty said.
Local officials know the needs of the community, she said, and the federal component can help fund the care those people need.
“I am optimistic you will continue to be the model for health care in the community,” she said.
During the tour led by Aldridge and Rue, Petty met some of the staff members and physicians, and discussed the agency’s plans for the future.
Plans include some architectural changes to one of the buildings as well as possibly hiring more staff, but Rue said talks on specifics are ongoing.
“Many discussions need to take place. Yesterday we celebrated. Today we’re looking at what does it mean,” she said.
Aldridge was relieved to learn that the grant wouldn’t be affected by the Supreme Court’s decision on the health insurance law.
“There is no way this grant can be taken away from us,” he said with relief. “The money has been granted, and it is a two-year grant and the money will not go away.”
He said a lot of the changes that go into effect under the law go toward supporting community health centers just like Health Services of North Texas, with more people qualifying under programs like Medicaid.
“It will make us even stronger, and a lot more people will qualify and we can help out more people.”
BJ LEWIS can be reached at 940-566-6875. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .