The new Cottonwood Health Center, on Coral Street in Soldotna, is now open to provide medical services for the community.
Central Peninsula Health Centers, Inc., a local non-profit organization, operates the new Health Center. According to Jay Lively, Commissioner of the Alaska Department of Health & Social Services, the Center is dedicated to providing quality health care, regardless of the ability to pay.
"This has been a great effort by the community, I know there has been an active group here for years trying to improve access to health care for residents of the Peninsula. This new center is a monument to their efforts, dedication, and belief that all individuals should have access to good health care," said Lively.
Funding for the clinic is, in part, from a U.S. Bureau of Primary Health Care grant acquired through Healthy Communities/Healthy People and administered by Bridges Community Resource Network, Inc. "With the help of U.S. Senator Stevens, we were able to convince the federal government that the needs in Alaska are different then they are in the lower 48 and that a clinic on the Kenai Peninsula didn't have to look like a clinic down south particularly an urban area down south. Once that was accomplished and special conditions were established, Senator Stevens was able to work his magic and get funding that allowed clinics like this to be developed," stated the Commissioner, adding that more of these clinics are slated to be opened in Alaska over the next few years.
According to Marilyn Walsh Kasmar, Executive Director Alaska Primary Care Association, the health care movement was started back in 1964 as part of President Lynden Johnson's War on Poverty. The program has grown from a pilot center in Boston and the Mississippi River Delta to some 1,200 centers throughout the country, "President Bush as part of his campaign pledge to deal with access to health care for Americans, has seen health centers as a way to do that and he has committed to doubling the amount of funding and centers around the country," said Kasmar, who came the Peninsula for the ribbon cutting ceremony. "We're very happy to see this funding coming here. We've been working on this for a long time, and with the Presidential initiative to grow the program, we'll definitely see more centers around the state," added Kasmar.
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