ROCKLAND, Maine — The community action agency Penquis has been awarded an $80,000 federal grant to help plan and develop a health center to provide primary, preventive and other health care services in Knox County.
“Knox County residents face a number of health challenges including various barriers to care such as lack of insurance, shortage of providers accepting Medicaid patients and limited transportation options,” said Shannon Bonsey, Penquis chief operating officer. “Our job is to help meet community needs that improve the health and well being of the individuals and families in the communities we serve” in Knox, Penobscot and Piscataquis counties.
The Health Resources and Services Administration grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will further the efforts of the Knox County Health Access Coalition. The coalition, which identified health care access as a critical need for mainland Knox County, is made up of more than 50 community members representing medical, dental, behavioral health and social services providers; consumers; state and local government; education; business; faith-based organizations; and others.
Penquis and coalition members share a vision of providing comprehensive primary care and preventive care — including medical, dental and behavioral health/substance abuse services — to people of all ages regardless of their ability to pay, according to a press release announcing the award on Wednesday.
“This is a fabulous opportunity to work with other leaders and stake holders to improve access to healthcare for all,” said coalition member, Dr. Paul Klainer, medical director and founder of the Knox County Health Clinic.
Led by Penquis, the coalition will hold planning meetings and public discussions to engage residents in the process; consider data from recent community needs assessments; select a service delivery model appropriate to community needs, capacity and resources; determine site location, facility and staffing needs; create bylaws and a governing board; develop an operations plan and seek funding to establish and operate a health center. By the end of the 12 month process the coalition will be prepared to submit a grant application for funding that will support creation of such a facility in Knox County.