La Casa receives federal grant

Admissions clerk Gloria Marez works at her desk Tuesday at the La Casa de Buena Salud health care center in Portales.

The La Casa de Buena Salud health care center in Portales will receive $342,095 a year for five years as part of a federal grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to help continue delivering health care services to the Portales community, according to Sen. Jeff Bingaman, R-N.M.

"Many New Mexicans depend on community health centers for their primary care services," Bingaman said. "This funding will help ensure La Casa de Buena Salud can continue to provide vital services to its patients."

The costs of the services provided at La Casa are on a sliding scale based on income and the size of a patient's family if patients do not have insurance.

"The intent behind federal funding is to provide health care to that population that otherwise wouldn't have access to primary care because of lack of money or lack of insurance," said Seferino Montano, CEO of La Casa de Buena Salud. "We provide an array of services for anyone who walks in the door, poor or rich, it doesn't matter you will have access to health care."

According to Montano, the number of patients seen at La Casa's seven health care centers in New Mexico has increased from about 17,000 patients in 2010 to a little more than 20,000 in 2011.

According to a report generated by La Casa, in 2011 there were 20,986 patients served at La Casa centers, with 7,419 uninsured.

Montano says the economy has contributed to that growth. He is thankful to the congressional delegations in the work that they do and making sure that clinics are included in those budgets and thankful to the president for signing off on those budgets.

"You have across the country anywhere between 45 to 50 million people who are uninsured who don't have access to health care," Montano said. "If you didn't have clinics, emergency rooms would be backed up. What would happen if we closed? They wouldn't be able to handle that patient load we have."

Montano believes that community health care is supported by all political parties because health care centers save the tax payers millions of dollars.

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