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Knox Co. Health Dept. Seeks FQHC Status

Galesburg, IL – The Knox County Health Department is looking to more easily help more people -- with help from the federal government.

Michele Fishburn is the department's Director of Community Health Improvement. She says it's seeking a "Federally Qualified Health Center" status, which means no one could be turned away based on income.

If the status is granted, the federal government would infuse the Knox County health department with $650,000 per year for three years. That would cover about a third of the center's yearly operating costs. The rest would come from insurance reimbursements, user fees and other means. Fishburn says the impact on Knox County taxpayers would be minimal.

The department would have to re-apply for the federal money after three years, but Fishburn says once an FQHC is established, the status is rarely stripped.

Fishburn says after assessing the county's health care needs over the past few years, and trying several different health care models, Knox County decided an FQHC was the best way to go. She says those with employer based, or private, insurance also use those centers.

"They love the community health clinic model," says Fishburn. "They like what they stand for and they want to support that model for other individuals in their community. They'll literally choose to use a community health center because they do provide good health care, and it's a way for them to give back and support their community."

Knox County has already received an $80,000 planning grant to apply for FQHC status.

Fishburn says the county will hold a community meeting on Wednesday to get public input on implementation of the FQHC model. It will be at the Lake Storey Pavilion from 7:45 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.