Porter Health Center To Get Stimulus Money

Monday, March 2nd 2009, 11:10 pm
By: News On 6

By Chris Wright, The News On 6

PORTER, OK -- The stimulus will mean millions in funding for six Oklahoma health centers.  The centers that primarily serve the uninsured in rural areas will split nearly $8 million.

The Arkansas Verdigris Valley Health Center in Porter provides care for those who have nowhere else to turn.  Most don't have insurance and can't afford a trip to the emergency room.  But, the center is tiny.

"We just physically don't have room to keep everything we need to keep," said director Susan Sawyer.

Director Susan Sawyer says they simply can't provide the quality of care they want to.  Verdigris Valley doesn't even have a full-time physician.

"It's extremely tough. We have very limited resources," said Susan Sawyer.

But, their resources got a big boost Monday.  Verdigris Valley is one of six Oklahoma health centers that will benefit from stimulus funding.  It will be given an estimated $1.3 million to improve facilities, as well as hire a full-time doctor.

The clinic says this money will allow them to do some much-needed expansion.  For now, they're forced to see all of their clients in one exam room.

The funding will also be used to improve the dental clinic.  Currently, it's housed next door in a trailer.

"It really means that people will have better lives," said Brad Stanton with Caring Hands Healthcare Center.

Brad Stanton helps out at Verdigris Valley, and manages Caring Hands Healthcare Center in McAlester, which will also received federal help.  He says the money won't cure the healthcare problems plaguing rural areas, but it's a good start.

"It means a lot of people will get healthcare that didn't have it before in rural Oklahoma," said Brad Stanton with Caring Hands Healthcare Center.

Nationwide, 126 health centers will be given $155 million.  The White House expects the money to create as many as 5,500 jobs.