Littleton loses community health clinic

Posted 9/24/09

On Nov. 1, the Littleton Health and Wellness Center, a clinic operated by the Metro Community Provider Network, will close its doors at the Buck …

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Littleton loses community health clinic


On Nov. 1, the Littleton Health and Wellness Center, a clinic operated by the Metro Community Provider Network, will close its doors at the Buck Recreation Center and shift about 5 miles north to the Englewood Clinic.

MCPN, which provides primary healthcare for people who have no other access to healthcare, has suffered a $4 million budget cut as a result of the $320 million in cuts to balance the state budget for the current fiscal year.

Community health centers across the state have lost more than $32 million this fiscal year.

“It’s unfortunate that these valuable resources are seen as expendable especially at such a critical time when we need the revenue the most,” said John Reid, vice president of Metro Community Provider Network.

Caught in a deficit spending situation, MCPN Board of Directors approved the closure of three locations — the Littleton Health and Wellness Center, the Platte Canyon Clinic in Bailey and the Jefferson County Head Start Clinic in Wheat Ridge — to reduce expenses and “stabilize the financial picture.”

Patients from these locations will continue to be served at other MCPN clinics and letters to the patients are in the process of being sent out.

The Englewood Clinic, 3515 S. Delaware, has the capacity to see more patients and to absorb the Littleton staff.

The facility boasts 16 exam rooms compared to four at the Buck Center.

“Because Englewood is a five minute drive from Littleton we thought it would create minimal impact,” Reid said.

“MCPN remains steadfast in all its efforts around providing critical medical and health services to call Coloradans in need, and as a regional ‘safety net’ provider will continue these efforts.”

The Network, which serves Jefferson, Arapahoe, Adams and Park counties and the City of Lakewood and Aurora, will try to stave off the closure of the Littleton Clinic during the next month, according to Reid.

They need between $200,000 and $300,000 to keep the clinic open.

So far, there haven’t been any layoffs or cuts in services but Reid says it’s not over yet.

“Our biggest fear is that they’ll continue to go deep into the Primary Care Fund. That’s been the staple of community healthcare,” he said.

And with nearly 8,000 new patient calls each month, the centers are already struggling to serve everyone.

This year to date, MCPN has experienced a 60 percent increase in demand for services.

“It’s the working-class people who have lost their jobs,” Reid said.

The majority of new patient calls are coming from Adams, Arapahoe and Aurora counties. Nearly 16.5 percent of Arapahoe County is uninsured, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

There are an estimated 800,000 people without health insurance in Colorado, and 14 percent are children.

“If these people don’t get an appointment at MCPN, nine out of 10 will go to hospital ERs,” Reid said.

And that will place an even larger financial burden on tax payers, he said.

MCPN is subsidized by state funds and federal funds from the U.S. Public Health Service. It benefits from the largest population bases of any community health center in Colorado, as well as the largest number of underserved individuals in the state.


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