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Primary Health Care staff cites continued funding issues

U.S. Rep Finkenauer listens to concerns at open house

T-R PHOTO BY MIKE DONAHEY Primary Health Care Clinic Director Susan Vititoe, left, discusses local health care issues with First District Congresswoman Abby Finkenauer, D-Iowa, Wednesday at the Marshalltown clinic while other staff look on.

There was children’s laughter outside mixed with tons of fun Wednesday in the Primary Health Care Clinic parking lot as youngsters played and celebrated its open house.

Inside the health clinic, staff and U.S. Congresswoman Abby Finkenauer were seriously discussing local health care needs of the 900 patients the local clinic serves per month.

Finkenaur had spent the day traveling to several public health clinics in the first district on a fact-finding mission.

She listened intently from Marshalltown staff which centered on concerns of dealing with year to year funding allotment vs. a five-year allotment, the slow pay and high denial rate of the controversial Iowa privatized Medicaid program and the inability to find some health care professionals.

Locally Primary Health Care has been seeking a pediatric dentist for some time, while the Des Moines PHC has issues finding qualified dental assistants.

“PHC serves more than 50 percent of the county’s low income population which is much higher than other communities we serve,” Chief Executive Officer Kelly Huntsman, who has been with PHC since 1989 said. “We serve all patients regardless of ability to pay.

A large number of Latinos, Burmese and South Sundanese are served in Marshalltown with an interpreter available at the three Primary Health Clinic Marshalltown locations.

“I have been impressed with the skill and passion of the health care professionals I listened to at each site I visited today,” Finkenauer said. “We will continue to work to get these valuable community assets a steady stream of funding so they can plan accordingly and keep valuable staff. I am extremely concerned about the serious problems staff experience with the privatized Medicare program. I am disappointed Gov. Reynolds has not done more to address these ongoing issues of service denials and slow payments.

In Marshalltown, staff endeavor to provide integrated health care, including behavioral health, connection to community resources, enabling services in addition to general medical, dental and OB-GYN care.

In 2017, PHC served 37,695 patients at its three Marshalltown sites including 733 veterans. For more information contact 641-753-4021 or visit www.phcinc.net/

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Contact Mike Donahey at

641-753-6611 or

mdonahey@timesrepublican.com