The vision of a Marquette County physician recently became reality when the Health Resources and Services Administration approved Upper Great Lakes Family Health Center as a Federally Qualified Health Center ‘Look-Alike’.
Catherine Kroll, DO has served the community for 20-plus years, providing a broad array of health care services for residents of Sawyer and Gwinn, Michigan. During that time she collaborated with other providers and organizations to ensure those in need of health care had access to not only medical care, but also dental care, x-rays, lab services, physical therapy, optometric care, and more. It was her dream that a self-sustaining Community Health Center would one day meet health care needs in Marquette County.
Due to changes in reimbursement and the costs of running a private practice, providing that care became increasing difficult. Community members joined forces with Dr. Kroll to form a community organization that would help her reach her goal. Upper Great Lakes Family Health Center incorporated as a non-profit organization in February 2009, and after receiving an $80,000 federal planning grant it seated board members from the community and began its quest for the ‘Look-Alike’ designation.
As a Federally Qualified Health Center ‘Look-Alike’, Upper Great Lakes Family Health Center will have the resources it needs to provide cost-effective, affordable care to the area’s uninsured, underinsured, and Medicaid beneficiaries.
“The ‘Look-Alike’ designation is a milestone in our ongoing effort in Marquette County to create a self-sustaining Community Health Center for all residents of our community, regardless of ability to pay,” said Donald Simila, MSW, FACHE, Chief Executive Officer of Upper Great Lakes Family Health Center. “I am personally honored to serve as the CEO of Upper Great Lakes Family Health Center and am committed to assisting Dr. Kroll in the realization of her dream.”
Upper Great Lakes Family Health Center operates full-time sites in Gwinn and Sawyer. Following in the footsteps of Dr. Kroll, the Health Center continues to collaborate with other community-based organizations, such as the Upper Peninsula Association of Rural Health Services and the Marquette County Health Department, to link patients with mental health and dental services. Dr. Kroll continues to practice medicine at the Health Center, also serving as its Medical Director.
Upper Great Lakes Family Health Center is one of Michigan’s 32 Community Health Centers, which provide quality, comprehensive, community-oriented primary health care for nearly 600,000 patients annually at over 160 sites across the state.
For more information about Michigan Community Health Centers, go to www.mpca.net.