Mattawa Community Clinic pays back Grant County debt

by CHERYL SCHWEIZER
Staff Writer | October 13, 2020 1:00 AM

EPHRATA — Even with the challenges presented by the coronavirus outbreak, one Grant County medical facility has paid back the money it owed the county and is operating at a profit.

Grant County Treasurer Darryl Pheasant said that as of Sept. 30, the Mattawa Community Clinic has cleared its debt and now has a positive balance.

Dana Fox, director of the Mattawa Community Clinic, said its board and administrators have been working to get out of debt for years.

“It was not an easy task,” she said. “It was a true team effort.”

The clinic borrowed money from Grant County, a process that uses interest-bearing warrants. The warrants are issued by junior taxing districts when they don’t have enough cash on hand to meet their obligations. In such a case, the district borrows money from the county to pay its obligations, then pays the money back with interest.

Clinic officials generated additional revenue by adding more services, some available only at the clinic, and renting space to other medical providers. In addition, a change in federal rules allowed the clinic to apply for more grant funding. The extra grant funding has helped the clinic to provide more services, Fox said.

The clinic also received grants due to the coronavirus outbreak and the temporary closure of many medical facilities for some services. Mattawa Community Clinic lost money due to the closure, Fox said, but gained revenue through the grants.

“We thought outside the box,” Fox said. One of those changes in thinking was the clinic pharmacy. Previously only patients at the clinic could use the pharmacy. Clinic officials received permission to change the pharmacy’s status to open it to anyone who needs to fill a prescription.

The clinic also rents space to tenants, including Grant Integrated Services, which provides behavioral health services, and New Hope, which provides support and services for domestic violence and sexual assault victims.

Clinic officials added their own behavioral health services, with a specialist on site three days per week and behavioral tele-health services one day per week.

A massage therapist also rents space in the clinic.

Clinic officials have expanded dental and medical services. Some of that was done with the aid of a bequest from John Ball, a former board member. When Ball died he willed property to the clinic, Fox said.

Cheryl Schweizer can be reached via email at cschweizer@columbiabasinherald.com.