A Watertown health center that nearly closed this past fall has been doing better and is gearing up for its annual fundraiser. Elizabeth Jeneault explains how the institution plans to continue serving thousands in need.
WATERTOWN, N.Y. -- When news spread that significant debt was forcing the North Country Family Health Center to close, the Department of Health and Samaritan Medical Center stepped up.
Without the center, over 10,000 locals would have been without care.
"The majority of our patients are those that are below 200 percent of the poverty guidelines and 75 percent of those are children," said North Country Family Health Center Executive Director Joey Marie Horton. "So we provide critical services, health care services, to those in the community that often don’t have another place to go for care."
Since SMC became the center's temporary operator, things have improved. Employees no longer worry about losing their jobs and finances are getting back in order.
"We developed a near break even budget for 2014 as part of the temporary operator," said Horton.
But because the center offers care to individuals with little or no insurance, it's always difficult to stay above water.
That's why they host an annual fundraiser each year to support critical operations. They say Friday's celebrity chef's event has already received the most support to date.
"I think the community knows the important role we play in providing services to those in need and it just shows that we live in a community where they’ve supported us through good times and bad times," said Horton.
The center is hoping to raise $25,000 from this year's event. And with it, they plan to continue improving their financial status and keep learning from SMC.
"Likely by this end of the summer we'll be out of the temporary operator and we're just hoping to be able to meet the needs of those in this community and we're confident we'll be able to do that moving forward," said Horton.
Those interested in attending the celebrity chef event can buy tickets at the door. It will kick off at 6:30 p.m. at 227 Sherman Street.