North Country Healthcare Opens

Clinic offers alternative for people struggling to afford health care

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After several years of discussion and planning, Gila County’s first community health center is a reality.

“North Country HealthCare’s roots reach back to a free clinic model very similar to the Payson Christian Clinic,” said Dr. Alan Michels, longtime Payson healthcare provider and community leader.

Dr. Michels has consistently ranked as Rim Country’s favorite doctor in the Roundup surveys done as part of its Best of Rim Country readers poll.

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Dr. Alan Michels

Dr. Michels said, “North Country HealthCare shares in my vision to provide affordable, comprehensive, primary healthcare and I believe this will be a strong partnership that will benefit the Payson community for many years to come.”

North Country HealthCare is Payson’s new community health center. For more than four decades, the company has operated America’s Community Health Centers to offer basic healthcare for those in need. The network currently serves 23 million patients in more than 8,000 locations in the United States.

Health centers play a key role during tough economic times for people struggling to pay for healthcare. The number of uninsured patients receiving care at health centers has increased 62 percent since 2000, the most significant growth in the program’s history. Health centers now serve 1 in 7 uninsured people nationally, including 1 in 5 of the low-income uninsured.

Health centers provide a comprehensive approach that saves money, improves patient health and creates quality local jobs. The centers save money by giving uninsured patients a place to seek treatment before problems escalate to the point of an emergency room visit.

Having an affordable source of care can reduce low birthweight births, the toll of chronic diseases and unnecessary hospitalizations.

The clinic offers a sliding fee scale with big discounts and more preventative care compared to traditional approaches. The company estimates that its approach saves the health care system $24 billion annually — much of it money that taxpayers would have had to provide through Medicaid — which provides healthcare for the poor.

North Country HealthCare will offer services that include primary care, chronic disease management, on-site laboratory services, AHCCCS and affordable health insurance enrollment assistance. The clinics also offer a variety of community health programs including the Well Woman HealthCheck Program (breast and cervical cancer screenings for uninsured women) and the Radiation Exposure Screening and Education Program (RESEP) for Downwind residents of the nuclear blasts that occurred in Nye County, Nevada during the 1950s and 1962.

Currently, North Country HealthCare operates in 14 communities throughout northern Arizona and serves as a medical home to nearly 50,000 people. North Country HealthCare is one of the largest employers in northern Arizona, pays above-average wages and serves as an important economic engine in the communities they serve. North Country HealthCare accepts Medicare, AHCCCS, commercial insurance and offers a sliding fee scale based on income and family size.

The Payson office of North Country HealthCare is located at 708 S. Coeur D Alene Lane, Suite B. Hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call (928) 468-8610.

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