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New clinic to help uninsured, underinsured in Wood River Valley

Family Health Services New Clinic

Family Health Services is open Jan. 23 in Rupert. They are opening a new clinic in Bellevue this fall. 

BELLEVUE — Uninsured and underinsured residents in Blaine County will have access to a new health clinic this fall. Family Health Services is planning to open a medical, dental and behavioral clinic with pharmacy services in Bellevue.

The nonprofit has been trying to open this clinic for a couple of years, Family Health Services CEO Aaron Houston said.

“We have a fairly large number of patients who end up driving to Jerome or Fairfield, which is really difficult on those families,” Houston said.

The clinic will be operational in November or December depending on renovations, he said. The medical portion will be open five days a week with one late night, dental services will be open four days a week with 10 hour days, and the counseling will be open five days a week with one late night. The pharmacy will start as telepharmacy and will change to have a full-time pharmacist as the clinic grows.

There will be a discount on care for patients living below 200% of the federal poverty level, he said.

Family Health Services sees more than 3,000 visits per year on average. Houston said 95% of those patients don’t have insurance or are on Medicaid. The clinic will focus on preventative care.

“So they [patients] aren’t ending up in the ER with a toothache, which is really the worst possible way to deal with health care is to take preventable situations and then have them go to the very expensive ER,” he said.

Situations like that end up costing taxpayers and the whole health care system because people without insurance are likely not able to cover the cost, he said.

Medicaid can be difficult because a lot of dentists don’t accept it, he said.

Located across from South Central Public Health, the clinic will be inside of a renovated 4,135 square foot building.

The clinic was finally able to open because of a $1 million grant from the St. Luke’s Wood River Foundation.

Megan Tanous St. Luke’s Wood River Foundation chief development officer, said this project fit’s with the mission of the hospital.

“This will potentially be one of the most impactful projects that we’ve been able to be part of,” Tanous said.

Erin Pfaeffle St. Lukes Wood River Foundation director of community engagement, said affordable dental care and access to mental health services were on the community health needs assessment list in 2019. The St. Luke’s health system and local hospitals are responsible for conducting this assessment every three years, she said.

The Wood River Medical Center identified mental and behavioral health, substance abuse, obesity, access to affordable dental care and access to affordable health insurance as the most critical needs in 2019, she said. The area is still below the national obesity average but it is on the rise.

Mountain Rides service will transport Wood River Valley residents to Twin Falls for medical treatment
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