The $75,000 commissioners are considering allocating to help a group called Project Access expand into Columbia County will be enough to begin helping uninsured residents, at least said Dr. Terrence Cook, the president of the organization.
"It'll be enough to get it started," Cook said. "That's the beauty of this thing. The ground work has been done."
Project Access has already been operating in Richmond County for several years, providing comprehensive medical care to the uninsured 18-64 years old, who are at or below 150 percent of federal poverty guidelines and have lived in the county for at least six months.
The Richmond County affiliate provided the computer system and other basic needs that don't need to be funded again by Columbia County's government, Cook said.
Cook made a presentation to commissioners last summer asking for $200,000 that Project Access would need to start-up a Columbia County clinic in Harlem.
That idea didn't materialize and Cook was then asked to make a second presentation at a June 6 committee meeting.
The money was taken out of the budget before approval at the June 6 commission meeting after Commissioner Steve Brown said he had not been made aware of it and some other items until just before the meeting.
Commissioners will revisit the issue at the June 20 meeting.
Cook said that if Columbia County commissioners approve the $75,000 to fund Project Access, officials can begin enrolling patients and sending them to participating primary care or speciality physicians.
"Then, if a prescription is written (by) either doctor, that is what those funds are used for,'' Cook said.
Cook said there are between 5,000 and 10,000 uninsured Columbia County residents that Project Access would assist with primary care, specialty referrals and prescriptions.
"We get at least five calls a week at our offices from people who live in Columbia County that need the program," Cook said.
If the program gets funded, Cook said the prescription portion can begin, which would allow Project Access to attract grant funds much easier than if the idea was only on paper.
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.