Cherry Streets Westside unit set to expand

February 25, 2011
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Some people might have heard that the Westside Health Center, operated by Cherry Street Health Services, is leaving its location near Stocking Avenue and Fourth Street. But in fact, just the opposite is true — the health center actually is expanding its services.

Assistant County Administrator Wayman Britt said some of the county’s Health Department services offered at the Westside clinic are being shifted to Kent County-owned clinics.

“That clinic is going to remain open,” he said of the Cherry Street Westside operation.

County services like the Women Infants Children supplemental nutrition program, immunizations and hearing screenings will be moved from the Westside Health Center.

“Our staff will consolidate into the Sheldon Clinic and the Fuller main office complex. So that’s what is going on,” said Britt. “The Cherry Street Health clinic had wanted to expand their array of services, and they received a grant recently that is going to broaden their service capacity and they need the space. They own the clinic. The county leases the space from Cherry Street.”

The Cherry Street Westside Health Center is at 669 Stocking Ave. NW; the building occupied by the county is next door at 653 Stocking Ave.

“We knew this would be a factor at some point when we built the new Human Services Complex, as we re-did the Fuller Street Clinic and as we made improvements to the other clinics,” said Britt. “We knew at some point, because of their growth at Cherry Street, there would be a need for us to move those services somewhere else.”

Britt oversees health and human services for the county, and the Business Journal asked him how the budget proposed by Gov. Rick Snyder would affect those areas.

“It’s too early to tell. We don’t have the breakout for human services yet to the extent that we know which specific programs that it is going to dismantle or going to affect. We will be studying that.”

The budget the governor submitted calls for Medicaid eligibility and provider rates to be maintained. Snyder funds the Medicaid budget at $11.2 billion, and adds a new 1 percent health care insurance assessment on all paid medical and dental insurance claims. His budget also calls for a lifetime limit of 48 months for families receiving cash assistance through the Department of Human Service’s Family Independence Program.

At the federal level, House Republicans reportedly want to cut $1 billion from the $2.1 billion baseline that funds community health centers across the country.

“We’re in a precarious situation. We’re going to continue to look for ways to offset the impending cuts. We’re already doing those kinds of things, as you know” said Britt.

“We’re going to have to suffer through it, and it’ll mean some non-mandated services will have to be dealt with. So what those all will be, we haven’t concluded. But we know what we’re mandated to do. So we’re going to have to figure out how to bring in some additional revenue, or cut some expenses,” he added.

“The anxiety, for me, isn’t there yet. I’m sure it’s going to affect my department, the health and human services areas. However, I feel that with our partners and our networks, we’ll weather the storm. We’ll have to.”

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