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Three North County health centers receive big federal grant dollars

REGION — Three North County health centers were among the 40 centers in California to receive a total of $36.8 million in grant dollars from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, the federal agency announced Wednesday.

Health & Human Services Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell announced that $36,805,680 in funding would go to the centers for facility renovation, expansion, or construction.

Health centers will use this funding to increase their patient capacity and to provide additional comprehensive primary and preventive health services to medically under-served populations in California.

“Health centers are cornerstones of the communities they serve,” said Burwell.  “Today’s awards will empower health centers in California to build more capacity and provide needed health care to additional individuals and their families.”

Escondido-based Neighborhood Healthcare and San Marcos-based North County Health Services received $1 million each and the Vista Community Clinic received $686,521, according to the news release.

All of the agencies have been beneficiaries of federal dollars before. Vista Community Clinic nearly doubled the size of its flagship healthcare center on Vale Terrace Drive in 2011 largely in part to an $11.4 million stimulus grant awarded in 2009. The three agencies also received millions in stimulus dollars that helped them hire new staff and upgrade their records systems during the height of the recession.

The money awarded Wednesday will allow the centers to renovate or acquire new clinical space to see an additional 159,239 new patients statewide.

The Coast News reached out to officials at Vista Community Clinic and North County Health Services, but was unable to receive comment about the awards before the time of publication.

Wednesday’s award is on top of the $18,143,303 awarded to health centers in California for construction and/or renovation in September 2015.

The funding comes from the Affordable Care Act’s Community Health Center Fund, which was extended in the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015.