A local health and dental center recently received a grant distributed to non-profits that support health and wellness to people that are most at risk - low-income families, elderly and the uninsured.
The Blue Ribbon Foundation of Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania awarded $10,000 to Susquehanna Community Health and Dental Center, 469-471 Hepburn St.
"The funding was awarded to fund a vaccine program for the uninsured," said Cynthia A. Yevich, executive director of the Blue Ribbon Foundation. "Our dollars will help the clinic purchase more than 260 doses of different vaccines so that they can offer free immunizations to uninsured and underinsured who might not otherwise be able to pay."
The vaccines will be for preventable diseases such as influenza, pneumonia, diptheria, tetanus and whooping cough.
Blue Cross set up the Blue Ribbon Foundation in 2002 to start distributing grants for non-profits throughout the 13 counties it covers. Every funding cycle, applications are accepted and the board of directors make the award decision.
The clinic will carry out the project for the next year and once the project is finished, it is eligible to apply for another project, Yevich said.
"It could be something different," she said. "It doesn't have to be."
This is not the first grant that the clinic received. It received two grants in 2007 for more than $70,000. The first grant was awarded to the dental side of the clinic and the other grant also provided immunizations to the uninsured.
Blue Ribbon helped the center fill out applications to qualify for the grant, said Ellen M. Krajewski, president and CEO of Susquehanna Community Health and Dental Center.
"We're partnering with Blue Ribbon to help provide care to our neediest residents," Krajewski said.
The grant money will allow the center to work not only on corrective care but also preventative care.
"One of our goals is to provide basic primary care, including prevention of infectious diseases," she said.
The grant money will help the community but cannot fully fund everything. Between 20 to 25 percent of the patients seen at the center are uninsured.
"Ten thousand dollars will only begin to address the uncompensated immunization," Krajewski said.
Part of the challenge is reaching the community's needs based on location.
"There's a huge unmet need in the community," Krajewski said. "There's a big urban population that has unmet needs. That comes with challenges innate in an urban population. (There's also) the surrounding rural population with its rural challenges. It's all access related. There are different kinds of issues."
Another newer challenge is the gas industry workers. They vary between whether they are staying short-term or long-term. Some come with families. Often, they have intense needs and sometimes their families also have intense needs, she said.
The center sees patients from birth to death to take care of medical and dental needs. Mental health also is being integrated into the center, she said.
The center began at Susquehanna Health's Divine Providence Hospital. It grew and Divine Providence sought to renovate its campus. A new location was found in Hepburn Plaza for the center, which officially became independent on Jan. 1, 2011, she said.