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River Falls free clinic awarded federal funds

U.S. Rep. Ron Kind, D-La Crosse, announced Wednesday, Sept. 9, that the Free Clinic of Pierce and St. Croix Counties is receiving a $150,480 grant from the Department of Health and Human Services Rural Health Outreach Special Initiative Program.

"I am pleased that the Free Clinic is able to offer much needed medical care and has received this grant to help them continue to fund their services," Kind was quoted as saying in a news release from his office.

"Especially in this tough economic time, this grant will help ensure they have the tools and means needed to provide medical attention to those who need it most."

The Free Clinic of Pierce & St. Croix Counties uses space within the River Falls Medical Clinic to serve uninsured, low-income patients. It provides basic care, including one-time clinic visits for colds and flu or management of chronic conditions such as diabetes.

In addition to health care services, the clinic also helps patients get access to needed medications.

The clinic goes beyond the usual free clinic model by helping patients enroll in other assistance programs, such as Badger Care, or in national prescription assistance programs sponsored by drug companies. The clinic also helps connect patients with other local resources, such as food pantries and heat assistance programs.

"We are grateful to receive this grant," Mary Conroy-Johnson, Free Clinic board chair, was quoted as saying in the news release. "The grant allows us to continue to give primary care to residents of Pierce and St. Croix counties who are both low income and uninsured."

The clinic will continue to rely on the support of businesses and individuals in the region, but the grant gives the clinic some breathing room, Conroy-Johnson said.

She said it will allow the clinic's board and volunteers to focus on their mission - providing health care services to those who would otherwise go without.

The grant will inot the clinic's general fund to help serve the increasing number of new patients who have recently sought out its services, according to the news release.

It says the clinic would like to use funds to provide preventative health care, as well as vaccines such as flu shots.