East Stroudsburg, Monroe County - A health center that serves low income people in the Poconos will close Friday. That means hundreds of people will have to get medical care somewhere else.
The Monroe County Family Health Center in East Stroudsburg will be closed until further notice. The center was a place for adults with government health insurance or no health insurance to get care. Deanna Mitchell of Effort told Eyewitness News she gets government health assistance and it is hard for her to find doctors. She explained, "You have to find somebody who approves the insurance and allows it and you usually have to drive a half hour, thirty minutes away to just get to a doctor."
Community organizations spent more than a decade trying to turn their dream of opening a low income healthcare center a reality. The place finally opened last year. "We were able to provide a sliding fee scale for people who could not pay," said Health Center Board Chairman Alberto Cardelle.
Cardelle told Eyewitness News the center was never able to get a full time doctor. Plus the government only reimbursed about half of the center's operating cost. He frowned, "We couldn't see enough people to make the economics work."
The board applied for the center to become a "Federally Qualified Health Center" so that it could get more government reimbursement. But it did not earn the qualification. Cardelle said, "Our proposal was ranked high but they only funded a very small percentage of the proposals that were put in."
So now community leaders are looking for partners that could help reopen the center. Deanna hopes they find a solution. She said, "They should do it, because people like me, I'm a teen mom, I need the help. I don't have every resource that everyone else does."
Monroe County's low income children's health care center and children's dental clinic will remain open.