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New clinic aims to fill care gap in Grafton

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GRAFTON, N.D. As more state leaders recognize a lack in health care options across rural North Dakota, a new care clinic in Grafton wants to be another option for low-income residents and migrant workers.

The new center from Community Health Service Inc. will begin accepting patients Wednesday, executive director Kristin Halvarson said, with an open house and ceremony for local and state officials Tuesday afternoon.

Although Halvarson said her organization had been working on this project for three years, it wasn't until 2017 that construction started in what used to be a corn field on West 11th Street. "We were awarded a $1 million grant through the health resources services administration," she said, "and then about $250,000 from the Otto Bremer Foundation."

Community Health Service Inc., based in Moorhead, has clinics serving North Dakota and Minnesota patients from approximately 67 counties, Halvarson said, listing centers in Rochester and Crookston, which serve patients in a 40- to 60-mile radius.

The new Grafton clinic is 5,400 square feet, with six exam rooms, a dedicated patient education area, a conference room and information on legal and public health services in the lobby.

"It's really at the core of our mission to connect people with other services to improve their lives and health," Halvarson said.

Patients will have access to about a dozen staff members, Halvarson added, including a full-time nurse practitioner, nurses, office staff and a bilingual physician working three times a week.

"We have a lot of Spanish-speaking patients," Halvarson said. "Most of our patients work in agriculture in some capacity. Some of those are migrant and seasonal workers, so historically that's always been at the core of what we've done."

The new Grafton clinic will charge patients using a sliding fee scale, with low-income patients paying less for the services. The clinic will accept any amount of payment, Halvarson said, including those with public insurance like Medicaid, private insurance and no insurance.

"We don't want to be a competitor in town, we just want to be another option, and what's really unique about us is the sliding fee scale."

Grafton Mayor Chris West and Chamber of Commerce members were invited to the ribbon-cutting ceremony Tuesday evening. Halvarson said she also expected an official form the office of Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D. to attend. Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., got a "sneak peak" from CHSI two weeks ago when he was in town for a meeting on trade.

Emily Allen

Allen joined the Grand Forks Herald to cover local government and politics May 2018. Call her at 701-780-1102, email her at eallen@gfherald.com or follow her on Twitter, @Emily_theHerald.

(701) 780-1102
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