Refuah Health Center in New Square Awarded Grant to Expand


refuah-health-centerThe Journal News reports: One of four federally funded health clinics in Rockland has been awarded a state grant to help double its space as the number of patients using its services continues to grow.

The expansion comes as Refuah Health Center , which was founded to serve the Hasidic residents of New Square, makes an effort to reach out to nearby communities such as Spring Valley that have large numbers of residents who do not have access to health care.

“We want the community to know that our services are available to everyone,” said Corinna Manini, a physician who serves as medical director to the clinic. “Reaching out to the community is a very high priority for us.”

Refuah, which means “recovery” in Hebrew, was founded more than 20 years ago, primarily to serve New Square, an exclusively Hasidic Jewish village in Ramapo.

In the past six years, the patients it serves has more than doubled, according to a grant application filed by the center with the New York state Department of Health.

There were 51,690 patient visits in 2002. By 2006, that number increased 112 percent to 109,524 visits, according to state records.

“Refuah is currently functioning at near-maximum capacity,” the center wrote in an application to the state Department of Health seeking approval for its expansion plan.

The center is in the process of constructing a five-story building next to its current location on North Main Street.

Refuah estimated the cost of the new building will be $4.7 million. Much of that will be paid for with a combination of grants.

The center has been awarded a $1.45 million grant from the HEAL NY program to expand primary care at its New Square location and is asking for permission from the state Department of Health to use those funds to help pay for the new building.

HEAL NY, or Health Care Efficiency and Affordability Law for New Yorkers, is a state program designed to make health care more efficient. It seeks to emphasize primary and preventive care in community settings rather than costlier hospital care.

The state grant will help pay for more clinical services in the new building. Refuah offers primary care and also has on its staff specialists in dermatology, podiatry, gastroenterology and other fields. There is a separate building housing the Senator Thomas Morahan Center for Women’s Health.

Part of the building will be used for purposes other than services provided by the federally funded health center.

The grant money will not be used for those purposes, Refuah officials said in documents submitted to the state.

Most of the patients now seen by the center are children, Manini said. The expansion will enable the center to serve more adults.

Most patients are covered by Medicaid. The majority of Refuah’s $16 million budget comes from Medicaid payments, according to tax filings. Those records show that in 2007, the most recent records available, Refuah was paid $12.4 million in Medicare and Medicaid fees.

The center charges on a sliding scale and also offers care to people who have no health insurance.

Refuah is taking steps to reach out to nearby communities that have large numbers of uninsured residents, including Spring Valley.

The village, which is adjacent to New Square, also has large numbers of people with no access to health care. Refuah has hired staff members who speak Spanish and Creole to try to let them know about the care available.

The center hopes to use two mobile health vans to provide on-site medical care to Spring Valley residents who vacation in the Catskills.

Many Spring Valley residents who have used services there have been satisfied , said Gail Golden, a community activist who is head of the Rockland Immigration Coalition.

“We are hearing decent things,” she said. “They seem to be making an effort to reach out to the community.”

 {The Journal News/ Newscenter}


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