Federal funds pulled; E.C. health clinic closing

2013-04-12T19:43:00Z 2013-04-12T22:19:31Z Federal funds pulled; E.C. health clinic closingPhil Wieland phil.wieland@nwi.com, (219) 548-4352 nwitimes.com

EAST CHICAGO | The East Chicago Community Health Clinic announced Friday it will close May 31 because of the loss of its funding from the federal Health Resources Service Administration.

The HRSA provides funds for programs for indigent and underserved communities.

"Our community is devastated by this news," said Gilda Orange, health center board chairwoman. "The ECCHC was in significant trouble years ago, but over the past three years under the guidance of our new management team, board members and community partners, we have turned the organization around."

Between 2005 and 2008, the ECCHC, at 1313 W. Chicago Ave, struggled when numerous real estate and equipment agreements went into default, and the former management team was not adequately addressing other financial issues, the clinic said in its statement about the closing.

"As debts grew, so did the patient population as the country entered the recession and financial obligations became impossible to manage. Current CEO Dwayne Mitchell has executed a major overhaul of operations to ensure maximum collection of revenues from the board approved strategic plan."

Mitchell added dental care to the clinic's service through a partnership with Kool Smiles, installed a certified electronic health records system, expanded the clinic's service area with a partnership at Regional Mental Health Center, and extended service to six days a week.

Mitchell said, "On March 6-8, we completed a FTCA (malpractice insurance coverage inspection) site visit to confirm our compliance. The report we have received confirmed that ECCHC is in full compliance. Why they would pull our funding based on our service area application, which scored a 'very good' rating, and given the immense progress made in the last three years, I am lost for words."

Mitchell said he has been ordered by the board to put together a transition team to deal with the closing. Orange said it will be done "in the best interests of all of our patients."

The ECCHC is a nonprofit, full service community health clinic. Founded in 1996, its services include pediatrics, obstetrics, gynecology, family planning, internal medicine, family practice, HIV primary care, social services, case management, prescription assistance program, dental and laboratory services.

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