Funding woes plague Marillac Clinic


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A bust in the local economy in the 1980s created a need for affordable health care for working class families. From that need, Marillac Clinic was created in 1988.

Marillac is a nonprofit clinic providing health services to low-income uninsured or underinsured Mesa County residents.

It’s ironic, said Marillac’s Executive Director Steve Hurd, that the clinic born in tough times is today finding itself in a bind.

Requests for services at Marillac, 2333 N. Sixth St., have increased from 50 a week to more than 200 a week in the past four months. Those requests are coming at a time when Marillac has lost about $500,000 in state funding and may face an additional $500,000 cutback next year.

“We’re absorbing a significant percentage of people who have lost access to health insurance,” Hurd said. “We have increased demand with decreased revenue. It’s a perfect storm in terms of what Marillac Clinic is facing right now.”

To help offset the state cutbacks and increases in services, Marillac is seeking community donations.

Marillac has not cut back services and doesn’t want to, Hurd said. Doing that may only increase the number of area hospital emergency room visits, an alternative that is much more costly to taxpayers in the long run.

“I’d like to think that our community pulls together in times like these,” Hurd said. “It’s that time again to pull together, to show people that are struggling that they have hope.”

Over the years, Marillac has steadily increased services and added a clinic in Palisade. It has 72 staff members and offers medical, dental and mental health services along with optical and pharmaceutical assistance.

The increase in client numbers for low-cost health care stems from the skyrocketing cost of health insurance. More employers are choosing not to extend benefits or are decreasing the benefits they offer employees, Hurd said.

Marillac typically receives about one-sixth of its revenue from the state through Colorado’s Amendment 35, otherwise dubbed the tobacco tax.

But $500,000 that would have gone to Marillac this year was retracted by the state after it cited a fiscal emergency, he said.

To compound the problem, stress about paying bills and navigating a rough economy can adversely affect a patient’s health, Hurd said.

“Trying to keep people healthy is a win for everybody,” he said. “It’s really important that people stay as healthy as they can. Often times, chronic financial problems can lead to despair when they aren’t treated with dignity.”


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