News and Tribune

November 13, 2013

Family Health Centers in Clark, Floyd counties add prenatal care

Move made in wake of prenatal care grant being lost


— The grants that funded prenatal care through the health departments in Clark and Floyd counties are gone, but the services for low-income families can still be had.

Uninsured and underinsured expectant mothers can receive prenatal care at a reasonable price at the Family Health Centers of Southern Indiana. The Family Health Centers began offering prenatal care about two weeks ago to bridge the gap in care that resulted in the loss of grants through the Indiana Department of Health, said Clark County Health Department Administrator Mike Meyer.

“The main thing is that [expectant mothers] have the ability to access services, and who provides it is not as important as if it is being provided,” Meyer said. “We think this model will work, and so that’s kind of the way we’re proceeding.”

Meyer explained that the grants the county prenatal clinics relied upon became competitive grants last year. This is the first time in about 20 years that the Clark County Health Department has not received a grant through prenatal care through the state as a result, Meyer said. Meyer said the local health departments fought the decision to deny the grants, but were rebuffed.

“We went to the state health department, talked to them and tried to seek out the reasons why,” Meyer said. “They had several points that they made in our application that they didn’t award us enough points on, I guess. We felt the other way, that we had a good, strong application, and so appealed that, and in the end still did not receive funding.”

Meyer said the state’s decision to deny Clark County a grant for prenatal care had nothing to do with a recent State Board of Accounts audit that discovered significant cash control issues and possible theft by employees at the county’s prenatal clinic.

Family Health Centers of Southern Indiana charge on a sliding scale based on income and the number of dependents in a family. While they do accept Medicare and Medicaid in some cases, private insurance is not accepted, said Lori Harris, CEO of Family Health Centers.

“It’s actually a good move for us [to provide prenatal services],” Harris said. “We’re just excited that we could fill in the gap for the patients and residents of the counties. We’re a safety net provider for medical, so this was just another service added on top.”

Family Heath Centers hired two former Clark County Health Department employees — Mora Leon, case manager, and Kristi Tingle, nurse practitioner — to ensure seamless coverage, Harris said.  

Family Heath Centers only had 11 days to react to the need for prenatal care in the county, Harris said.

“We’re used to that,” Harris said. “We’re a Federally Qualified Health Center [through the Bureau of Primary Care]. The feds make us do all kinds of crazy stuff overnight, and we just do it, you know?”