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Sedgwick County commissioners were split Wednesday over whether to apply for a federal grant that would fund the opening of a health care clinic at Jardine Middle School in southeast Wichita.
The school, located in one of the county's poorer neighborhoods, is located at 3550 E. Ross Parkway, which is near 31st St. South and Hillside.
Sedgwick County Health Director Claudia Blackburn said the clinic would serve an area of about 27,000 citizens.
"Twenty-four percent of those live at or below 100 percent of the federal poverty level," Blackburn said. "And 27 percent of the population in that area are children."
The $500 thousand grant would come from President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act. It would go toward the opening of a 4,500 square foot facility with six examination rooms, dental care facilities and eight full-time employees. GraceMed would operate the clinic year-round.
GraceMed CEO Dave Sanford told commissioners that the clinic would sustain itself financially after it is opened, with about 50 percent of its patients paying with some form of reimbursement, like Medicare, Medicaid or private insurance. The other half of the clinic's patients would be uninsured, and would pay fees on a sliding scale.
Richard Ranzau and Karl Peterjohn voted against the application authorization. Both had concerns about the long-term sustainability of the clinic after the federal money is used up.
Peterjohn said the federal government is good at what he calls "pump and dump" programs.
"They pump up the spending. It's strictly on infrastructure," Peterjohn said. "And then you dump the responsibility and cut back, and that's what the current plan is."
Commissioners Dave Unruh, Ken Norton and Jim Skelton voted in favor.