Uninsured health clinic under way in Natchez

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 19, 2006

NATCHEZ &8212; A federally funded health clinic for uninsured and under-insured patients is under construction in Natchez and should be open by December, said Shirley Ellis, executive director.

The Natchez clinic, corner of Homochitto Street and Duncan Avenue, will be the first satellite office of the Jefferson Comprehensive Health Center in Fayette, Ellis said.

&8220;We&8217;ve tinkered with the idea of a clinic in Natchez for a long time,&8221; she said. &8220;We serve a vast number of people in Adams County.&8221; The clinic also sees patients from Franklin and Wilkinson counties.

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The Fayette clinic was established in 1971. &8220;We&8217;ve been here for 35 years,&8221; Ellis said.

Mississippi has 22 community clinics. Expanding their services to another area goes along with President Bush&8217;s initiatives to make health care more accessible to all people, she said.

Adams County has been listed as one of the counties that needs but does not have a community clinic.

Sadie Bacon of the AJFC Community Action Agency, said she sees people every day who could benefit from such a clinic.

&8220;I see people all the time who can&8217;t afford doctor bills, and even if they go to the doctor can&8217;t afford the medicine,&8221; Bacon said.

&8220;People don&8217;t go to the doctor and don&8217;t buy their medicines,&8221; she said. That leads to poor quality of health, particularly among the elderly.

Ellis said many Natchez-area residents probably do not know about the services of the clinic. The Fayette clinic employs four physicians and sees about 200 patients a day, including patients in the public schools, where nurse practitioners see students.

&8220;The Natchez clinic will have one medical doctor, a nurse practitioner and a licensed nurse,&8221; she said.

&8220;We contract with a local drug store for medications and give patients vouchers. It&8217;s not free, but it&8217;s low cost.&8221;

The clinic uses a sliding scale provided by federal guidelines and including family size and income. The clinic sees patients of all ages.

&8220;We are primarily responsible for the uninsured and under-insured, but we will see any patient,&8221; Ellis said. &8220;We see Medicare and Medicaid patients and patients with private insurance.&8221;

The Natchez clinic will be open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, Ellis said.

&8220;We are a federally funded clinic through the Department of Health and Human Resources, but all the state clinics are members of a state agency, Mississippi Primary Health Care Association,&8221; Ellis said.