By Maggie Dunning
Staff reporter

“We’re hopeful that a community health center can be established. It’s just a question of when,” said David Brazil, liaison for the board of health, administrator REHS.

If it comes into being it will be named the community health center of Cowley County.

It will impact low-income people, those who are uninsured, underinsured and underserved.

Alan Polen is president of the board of directors for the proposal and a retired Methodist pastor.

After Polen retired he wanted to do something that made a difference. He said, “I’ve had a compassion for people and I feel that’s a calling.”

The process started in 2005 when Cowley County completed its strategic plans through Cowley First and Cowley County Vision 20/20.

The community was surveyed to see what people thought was needed. In a scale from one to 100, with one being the best and 100 being the worst Cowley County rated just about 80 in health care needs.

The results were clear. Brazil said, the need for access to primary care is overwhelming in the county.

“Essentially 15-16 percent of our county in uninsured and another 12 to maybe 15 percent, based on the numbers you look at, are underinsured. Between the two you’ve got 25 to 30 percent of the county that cannot get access to primary care doctor,” said Brazil.

Polen said “If they get a prescription they may not have resources to buy the prescription even though the doctors give them prescriptions.”

The proposed low cost health center will have connections to resources that provide assistance.

Polen said the health center has two aims, “Accessible and affordable health care for those who can’t afford and where it’s not easily accessible.”

A 501-C3 non-profit corporation has been formed. The board of nine directors finished the planning grant in November of 2012 and moved on to a new access point application.

They should hear back from the federal government by this fall on whether or not they will get the award.

Community health centers are modeled in a holistic management of personal health.

Brazil said that health clinics build slowly. The need in Cowley County is so great that he predicts it will grow at a rapid pace.

“Most community health centers, once they are established, even in rural areas, outgrow their facility in three or four years and have to expand,” said Brazil.

While this is the first proposed health clinic for Cowley County, arkcity.net reported that there are several in Kansas.

Brazil said the closest ones to Cowley County are in Wichita. “The three I can think of are Grace Med, Guadalupe, and Hunter.”

The other health center board members are Kounh Astrab, Bruce Blake, Paulin Conde, Joy Kennedy, Grace Nichols, David A. Seaton, Kathy Wohlgemuth, Jeff Wood and Judith Zaccaria.

Maggie Dunning is a freshman majoring in communication. You may e-mail her at margaret.dunning@sckans.edu.