Sapphire Community Health announces closure

By Michael Howell of the Bitterroot Star | June 8, 2011

The Board of Directors of the Sapphire Community Health Center has made the tough decision to close the facilities doors on June 30, according to board member Carlotta Grandstaff. She said the action was dictated by the slash in funding at the federal level for such facilities.

Sapphire Community Health, Inc. is a non-profit company offering primary health care and basic medical services to low income people on a sliding scale fee. It is currently operating out of new building owned by the Human Resource Council and specifically designed as a medical service facility.

Grandstaff said that the clinic applied for federal funding under a program that has traditionally been funded to the tune of $2 billion every five years. She said that this year the Obama Health Care Act had bumped this to $11 billion. But that funding was radically cut in the last minute haggling over the national budget, leaving only about $40 million in funding for the program.

“Things looked really good when we applied for a grant, which is due to be awarded this summer some time,” said Grandstaff. “But given the funding cuts don’t know whether any funding will be forthcoming. We reviewed our operation and realized we only had the money to continue through June.”

On Monday Grandstaff learned that out of the 800 applicants vying for a portion of the $40 million, about 60-70 can expect to be funded. The awards won’t be announced until August.

Grandstaff said that without answers about the grant it was not possible to go beyond what the operation’s current budget would support.

“But we are not dissolving the company,” she said. She said they will wait to see how the federal funding shakes out. She said it is possible that some funding may still come through and the clinic could re-open, or perhaps stay open, but for now the doors are set to be closed on June 30.