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Lorain Health Center Gets $1.3 Million in Stimulus Funds

The money is part of $155 million in targeted grants for health centers across the country.

In Ohio, it's expected to create about 190 medical jobs, including jobs for several doctors and support staff at Lorain County Health & Dentistry.
The Lorain Center has never received federal dollars in its seven years of existence, so their portion of the stimulus package was both unexpected, and a relief to Chief Executive Officer Stephanie Wiersma.

DR. STEPHANIE WIERSMA: "I was very surprised to get $1.3 million."

Senator Sherrod Brown and Congresswoman Betty Sutton notified Wiersma of the awards Monday, the same day she was elected Chair of the state's Health Center Association. She broke the news to all the recipients at once, during their conference in Columbus.

DR. WIERSMA: "Tears of joy. I think it will really sink in when I return to Lorain and thank my staff for all their hard work... it's been a long time coming."

The Health Center served more than 20,000 patients in 2007 - but only half that many last year, as funding dried up. Wiersma says increased staffing will mean more patients can be treated.

DR. WIERSMA: "We can extend our reach to take care of more uninsured persons, and those whose incomes may be particularly stressed..."

The award is also good news to Elyria's EMH Regional Medical Center, where emergency room visits often overwhelm it's staff.
EMH Interim COO Dr. Donald Sheldon told 90.3 the funding will help relieve the overcrowding.

Rick Jackson is a senior host and producer at Ideastream Public Media. He hosts the "Sound of Ideas" on WKSU and "NewsDepth" on WVIZ.