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Published on September 15, 2020

Rural Health Care, Inc. and Avera Announce Collaborations for Two Clinics

Rural Health Care, Inc. (RHCI), in collaboration with Avera, announces the transition of Avera Medical Group clinics in Windom and Fulda, Minn., to operate as Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs). This change became effective Sept. 1, 2020.

RHCI will operate Access Health – Windom and Access Health – Fulda as FQHCs in space shared with Avera. Operating as FQHCs, also referred to as community health centers, brings together RHCI’s experience in FQHC operations and the expertise and technology of Avera.

In addition to high-quality health care, benefits of an FQHC include a sliding-fee discount program and discounted pharmacy program for individuals who financially qualify.

Patients will continue to receive the same high level of quality health care from staff they know and trust. Existing facilities, staff, technology and quality service that the community has become accustomed to will remain unchanged. While the FQHCs will operate under the name Access Health, patients will still see the familiar Avera Medical Group name on these clinics for specialty services provided in the shared facility.

“This collaboration allows a rural setting to have affordable health care in a number of services, including primary care, annual physicals, chronic disease management, lab and X-ray services, immunizations and more,” said David Flicek, Chief Administrative Officer for Avera Medical Group. “Avera has been collaborating with Rural Health Care, Inc., for over six years. We have found this to be a relationship that benefits patients and communities.”

Created in 1991 under federal law, FQHCs are “safety net” health care providers that charge for services on a sliding-fee scale based on family income and size, and provide services to all regardless of their ability to pay or health insurance status. Established in 1987, Rural Health Care, Inc. operates nine other community based health centers throughout central South Dakota and southwest Minnesota. RHCI is headquartered in Fort Pierre, S.D.

Jim Hardwick, CEO of Rural Health Care, Inc., said, “Avera’s willingness and enthusiasm to collaborate with RHCI will allow clinics in Windom and Fulda to reach more individuals in need of quality health care. In today’s health care climate, increasing access to high-quality, cost-effective health care is the goal. This collaborative delivery model has a long history of reducing barriers while enhancing and expanding access to care in rural locations.”

“Avera has a strong history of supporting rural health care. We believe this will lead to a healthier population as a whole, thus having a positive impact on these communities,” Flicek said.

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