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Pagosa Mountain clinic, DHS start voucher program

Pagosa Mountain Clinic, with the help of grant funding, has embarked on a new voucher program aiming to help medically-underserved families in the community receive health care.

The goal of the voucher program is “to reach people who need care that don’t have health insurance,” sad Brad Cochennet, chief executive officer of Pagosa Mountain Hospital.

The program will start with 50 vouchers, each for the $40 minimum charge for PMC, Cochennet said. The fee scale for the clinic is currently a sliding pay scale, to help accomodate those with little or no insurance.

PMC, a rural healthcare clinic run through Pagosa Mountain Hospital, opened in November and is currently open one day a week, but Cochennet noted plans to open the clinic more days beginning this spring in order to serve more people.

Funding for the vouchers comes from The Colorado Health Foundation in the way of a $231,000, three-year grant to provide healthcare to the underserved in the community, Cochennet said.

Screening to determine eligibility for the vouchers will be done by Archuleta County Department of Human Services advocates.

“The advocates have an assessment tool that they use, and they look at what the income is versus what the expenditures are,” said Erlinda Gonzalez, director of DHS.

After an assessment is completed, DHS will help look at a variety of other sources to help an individual if costs were to exceed the $40 provided by the voucher, as well as at other general programs to help families.

Families and individuals can be reffered to DHS by the hospital, another source, or can come in on their own, Gonzalez added.

Depending on demand for the vouchers, Cochennet said he hopes to expand the voucher program as the capacity of the clinic increases, both in the number of vouchers and possibly in services provided.

Gonzalez noted that talks have begun about expanding the vouchers into dental care, while Cochennet simply said, “There’s more left to come.”

As of Wednesday morning, demand proved to be alive and well, with five people already referred to the clinic for the vouchers in just over a week’s time, Gonzalez said, adding that the physical vouchers hadn’t even made their way to the DHS offices yet because the program is so new.