Health Clinic celebrates Natchez branch opening

Published 10:44 pm Saturday, September 1, 2007

NATCHEZ — Although they have been operating for about two months, the Jefferson Comprehensive Health Clinic had its official opening with a ribbon cutting ceremony Thursday.

The clinic, located at the corner of Homochitto Street and Duncan Avenue, has been open since July 16.

The goal of the clinic, a member of the Mississippi Primary Care Association, is to serve the uninsured and under-insured with quality medical care, human resources and outreach services Director Rickey Banks said.

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A federally qualified health center, Jefferson Comprehensive Health offers its services with fees set by a sliding scale, Banks said.

“That scale is based on the number of people in the home and the amount of income they receive,” he said.

“Of course, if an individual comes in and has no insurance and has no ability to pay, we’re not going to turn them away,” Banks said.

Part of the clinic’s funding comes from a federal grant, but that grant doesn’t cover all of the costs.

“The rest of it has to be collected through payable sources such as Medicaid and Medicare,” Banks said.

The clinic, which hosts two internal medicine specialists, a family practitioner, a podiatrist, a gynecologist, an optometrist, a nutritionist and a dentist, has a pharmaceutical voucher program that allows patients to buy the medicine they need for a minimal cost of about $3, Banks said.

The Natchez clinic is a satellite of a larger clinic in Fayette, Interim Medical Director and Internal Medicine Specialist JoAnn Francis said.

“Jefferson Comprehensive Health Center started as a storefront clinic in Fayette, and because of the number of patients they saw was able to expand through federal grants,” she said.

Since opening, the clinic has seen a fair share of patients, Francis said.

“We have had good support from the local population in Natchez,” she said. “We have a high indigent population without insurance or with incomplete insurance coverage.”

In the past, many people used the local emergency rooms for primary care, but because the cost of emergency room visits has risen over the years, they were no longer able to do that, Francis said.

The clinic — which has an EKG machine and a lab from which to perform tests — can be used to treat any urgent care situation, Banks said.

Though the doctors at the Natchez site rotate between it and other clinics in the Jefferson County area, the clinic is currently in the process of hiring so schedules will be more stable, Francis said.