The proposal has been under discussion between the state association and the board of the Heart Mountain Volunteer Medical Clinic for more than a year, and the members of the HMVMC board are divided on whether establishing such a center is advisable. Consequently, they are bringing the question to the community and asking for direction.
The key question in discussing the issue is the provision of basic health care to community members who have low incomes and aren’t covered by health insurance. The HMVMC was founded to serve those residents with the support of volunteers and community fundraising. Powell’s free clinic is open only a few hours one night of the week, though. Dr. Nick Morris, who, with his wife, led in establishing the clinic, estimates that 12,000 area residents would qualify for the clinic’s services, and the clinic is only able to serve about 5 percent of those residents.
A Community Health Center, by contrast, would be open 40 hours a week, with one or two paid providers, and would be able to serve more people.
But, as is usual with public issues, the question of establishing such a center isn’t a simple one. Concerns about local fundraising, federal funding, and the relationship between the center and the clinic are just a few of the questions to be answered.
Those involved in the proposal are not interested in forcing anything on the Powell community. They have stated that, if the community is not interested, they will not go forward with the proposal. They do warn, however, that another area community might opt to establish a Community Health Center, and if that happened, it could make it more difficult for the HMVMC to raise the funds it needs to operate in Powell and Cody.
The request for community direction is what makes it important for Powell people to attend Wednesday night’s meeting.
A front-page story in the Sept. 1 issue of the Tribune presented some of the pros and cons of the issue, and we feel there are valid concerns on both sides that need to be considered, but a more complete picture of the proposal will be available Wednesday night. Consequently, we urge as many residents as possible to attend the meeting, hear the proposal, ask questions and express their opinions.
It’s one more chance to exercise our rights and responsibilities as citizens of the community and make Powell a better place.