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Congressman Gene Green

Representing the 29th District of Texas

Denver Harbor Clinic to receive federal grant

May 31, 2007
Press Release

Houston, TX – Rep. Gene Green (D-Houston) announced a federal grant to Houston Community Health Centers’ Denver Harbor Clinic of more than $470,000 today.


The Department of Health and Human Services awarded the grant of $471,309, which will be used to enhance services and facilities in the Denver Harbor area of Houston, including hiring a new full-time dentist.


According to Marisa Ponti, development officer for the Houston Community Health Centers (HCHC), the funds will nearly triple the Denver Harbor Clinic’s care capacity. In 2005 the clinic accommodated 4,200 health care encounters, and Ponti expects that number to rise to about 12,000, representing approximately 6,000 people, for 2008.


“We’ll be able to treat more people and also help them to avoid getting sick in the first place” Ponti said. “Our goal is to educate the community about taking care of their own health,” she added.


The Denver Harbor Clinic will use the money to expand and provide new services at an enhanced facility, which will include medical offices and house an education center that will provide free seminars on topics like women’s and children’s health. The clinic’s expansion will also allow HCHC to include a dental facility.


“Low-cost dental services are a priority in Denver Harbor because demand is very high and many people here are uninsured and can’t afford expensive routine care,” Ponti said. “The waiting list for a dentist in east Houston can be three to 12 months.”


Ponti said the grant will allow the clinic to hire a full-time dentist and dental hygienist. The dental services will be provided on a sliding fee scale that takes into account a patient’s income and family situation. 


She also said the new facility will increase the cost-effectiveness of care. The clinic is reimbursed for each Medicare or Medicaid patient the clinic sees, so the more people they treat, the more other funds such as grants are freed up to provide care to uninsured members of the community. 


Denver Harbor has been designated a “medically underserved area” by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Cabinet-level agency that awarded the grant.


More than 20,000 Denver Harbor neighborhood residents must resort to a city-run preventive care clinic or LBJ Hospital’s emergency room, five miles away, for medical care.


The Denver Harbor Clinic’s expanded services will include primary care, a lab, x-rays, dental care, mental health counseling, preventive care and patient case management for residents who otherwise must resort to a city-run preventive care clinic or LBJ Hospital’s emergency room, five miles away, for medical care.


The Denver Harbor Clinic opened in 2001 in a neighborhood church for six hours a week. Today it is open 40 hours a week.


The Denver Harbor Clinic is a Federally-Qualified Health Center (FQHC). FQHCs deliver preventive and primary care to patients, regardless of their ability to pay.  Almost 40 percent of health center clients have no health insurance coverage, and others have inadequate health coverage.  While they are not free clinics, FQHCs set charges for health care services according to clients’ income.  Under the FQHC program, health centers must be governed by community boards, on which health center patients have majority representation, to ensure that the center responds to the health care needs of the community.


Rep. Green is the Vice Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Health Subcommittee.  In that capacity, he has introduced HR 1343, the Health Centers Renewal Act, which would reauthorize the Health Center program through 2012 and authorize increased federal funding to develop more health centers in medically-undeserved areas in Harris County, and throughout the nation.