Local nonprofit North Country Healthcare medical center focuses on helping patients find their way through treatment options, service payment, referrals, insurance registration and community outreach.
“We serve the uninsured and the underinsured,” said Byron Lewis, Health Benefits Navigator for North Country. “We’re not going to tell anyone there’s no room at the Inn.”
North Country is one of 14 centers in Arizona with at least 80 providers. The Lake Havasu City location has four providers, including Joselyn Branchik-Jedick, D.O., Sports Medicine; Sandra Ulmer, FNP; Carol Capozzi, FNP; and Connie Ebach, FNP. The four serve about 1,000 patients in their 15 exam rooms.
With completion of six new exam rooms in 2015, the clinic plans to expand its staff, too. They currently seek one new doctor and another Family Nurse Practitioner.
The clinic features a sliding fee scale for services that is based on an individual’s income. Other amenities include discounted vaccinations for children, acceptance of most insurance, an in-house Lab Corp. technician, bilingual staff and translation services, and advocates who help people navigate the state and federal medical insurance programs.
“There are a lot of folks that don’t have health insurance and they don’t know where to go to get it,” Lewis said. “And, they don’t know just how close they are to getting it.”
The clinic’s health insurance advocate, or application counselor, has helped sign up about 500 individuals so far this year with either the state’s Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS), or the federal Affordable Care Act. Overall in Arizona, North Country has helped 11,000 individuals sign up for insurance.
Medical insurance premium prices range from free to $800 depending on denominators including age, residency, income and tobacco use. Advocates help individuals understand the related tax credits, too. Open enrollment for the Affordable Care Act is Nov. 3 this year through Jan. 31, 2016.
“We are more than just a medical clinic, there’s outreach,” said Carol Cronjager, Well Woman Healthcheck Program Coordinator for North Country.
For example, a mammogram screening Saturday at Kingman Regional Medical Center, in Kingman, served 14 women who may have otherwise gone without the test.
“Breast cancer mortality rates have decreased by 34 percent since 1990 because of screenings,” Cronjager said. “Now, there are 3.1 million breast cancer survivors.”
Early detection is the key to survival. Educating the public is crucial when one in eight women, and one in 1,000 men, will be diagnosed with breast cancer during their lives, she said. For more information, visit www.wellwomanhealthcheck.org.
In the case of diagnosis, the clinic also works with patients to explore treatment payment option programs.
“The biggest thing we offer here is hope,” Lewis said. “The goal is to make the community healthier.”
Partnerships with other local agencies and nonprofits groups include Mohave Mental Health, H.A.V.E.N. Family Resource Center and Havasu Community Health Foundation. Programs included in the outreach lineup center on diabetes, sexual assault response, HIV/AIDS treatment and support, child development, pregnancy, cancer screening and domestic violence.
“We are customer-service oriented,” Cronjager said. “We’re going to try to help them find the service they need.”
North Country Healthcare was founded in 1991 in Flagstaff and stems from the former Flagstaff Community Free Clinic. Other current clinic locations include Ash Fork, Bullhead City, Grand Canyon, Holbrook, Kingman, Payson, Round Valley, Seligman, Show Low, St. Johns, Williams and Winslow. For more information, visit www.northcountryhealthcare.org.
North Country Healthcare is at 2090 N. Smoketree Ave., in Lake Havasu City. Open 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Friday. 928-854-1800.
Feature photo: On Monday, North Country Healthcare staff display the clinic’s collection of decorated bras that promote Breast Cancer Awareness this month.