COUNTY COMMISSION AGREES IN PRINCIPLE TO FIRST STEP FUNDING

COUNTY COMMISSION AGREES IN PRINCIPLE TO FIRST STEP FUNDING

At a work session Tuesday, June 2, the Doña Ana County Board of Commissioners heard a recommendation from County Manager Brian D. Haines to fund First Step Women’s Clinic with $250,000 from proceeds of the county’s lease of Memorial Medical Center to LifePoint Hospitals.

When the lease was finalized in 2004, it included a $5 million grant to Doña Ana County for health care initiatives across the county. Haines told the commissioners on Tuesday that, upon final approval, the funds will be partially distributed and partially invested in 2005.

The investments will insure that the funds can continue to provide health care system enhancements and funding over a six-year period while the principal balance accumulates interest.

First-year recommended allocations include $250,000 for First Step, $200,000 for La Clinica de la Familia, $100,000 for Ben Archer Clinic and $50,000 for St. Luke’s Clinic. The First Step component will fund pre-natal care for low-income women who have a low risk of pregnancy complications. The amount matches a request made by First Step to the Commission last month.

County Health and Human Services Department Director Silvia Sierra told the commissioners at Tuesday’s budget session that funds from the grant will allow the county to assist rural clinics in expanding their operating hours and will assist First Step in providing preventive and prenatal care to expectant mothers.

The Commission took no action at Tuesday’s work session, but a final budget is expected to be presented in July for formal acceptance, at which time the grant funding recommendations are likely to be finalized.

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Reporters seeking more information or interviews may call county Public Information Director Jess Williams at (505) 647-7229.