Bartow Health Access continues to serve underinsured, uninsured
by Marie Nesmith
Aug 12, 2014 | 1735 views | 0 0 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Bartow Health Access Office Manager Irene Hufstetler, left, and Medical Assistant Marla Cole review client forms. SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
Bartow Health Access Office Manager Irene Hufstetler, left, and Medical Assistant Marla Cole review client forms. SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
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After being closed for about a month, the Bartow Health Access’ Louis E. Tonsmeire Sr. Clinic currently is serving Bartow County’s underinsured and uninsured residents. Reopening at the end of July, the nonprofit is seeing patients Tuesdays from 8 a.m. to noon and Wednesdays from 1 to 5 p.m.

“Basically it closed because our doctor had moved to take another position in Ohio, and we have been in search of a nurse practitioner or a doctor to take over the clinic,” said Lee Burger, chairman of Bartow Health Access’ board of directors. “We have made some arrangements with a nurse practitioner to come in two days a week and keep the clinic open.

“In the meantime ..., we are in the process [of] applying to become a federally qualified health clinic, what’s called a FQHC. That is what we’re doing at this moment. ... There’s two ways you can qualify for a FQHC. One is a look-alike ... and then there is the regular FQHC. The look-alike, you’re able to accept Medicare and Medicaid patients, and ... if you qualify for the other one ..., a federal grant comes with it. The biggest benefit is for the community, that we’re able to continue to serve the uninsured and the underinsured, which is about right now a third of our population in Bartow County.”

In 2013, BHA transitioned from a referral center to a primary health care home.

Located at 31 Pointe North Drive in Cartersville, BHA’s clinic also features two staff members from Highland Rivers, who are providing behavioral health care for individuals and families. Along with exam rooms, the facility consists of a medical dispensary, a nursing station, laboratory, a community health education space and behavioral health rooms.

The organization recently experienced a financial setback when BHA’s audit discovered $30,000 to $40,000 was stolen between December 2012 and December 2013.

While Capt. Mark Camp, public affairs officer for the Cartersville Police Department, stated the case has been closed, Burger said BHA still is pursuing the possibility of criminal charges.

Burger also credited the public’s support with enabling the nonprofit to continue to meet the needs of the community.

“We are still seeking either restitution or criminal charges. … In fact, we had a meeting today concerning filing criminal charges,” Burger said Monday. “… [The Cartersville police] advised us to go to the magistrate court, and since that time, we just simply hired an attorney to assist us in seeking prosecution in this case.”

Echoing Burger’s sentiments, BHA Interim Director Gary James expressed his gratitude to the community for their continued assistance.

“We’re trying to take care of the underinsured and the uninsured and make sure that there is viable health care for everybody in Bartow County. We have been very lucky that we still have a lot of community support and are able to do this,” James said.

For more information, call the BHA at 678-535-7216 or visit its website, www.bartowhealthaccess.org.