The Front Street Community Health Center in Juneau has a new permanent nurse practitioner after a year of temporary medical providers.
The health clinic, which caters primarily to the homeless, has experienced many difficulties growing since it split from the Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium two years ago.
Cynthia Mattoni was a temporary nurse practitioner at Front Street Community Health Center before deciding to apply for the permanent position. She has been at work since October 1 and is very busy.
“It’s about reorganizing the clinic. It’s a lot of paperwork and a lot of education and developing these relationships with the patients, the community, the community providers, the pharmacy so that they know who I am and that I am permanent, ”said Mattoni.
Mattoni sees up to 16 patients per day, but her schedule may vary.
“Some days are full, some are not. On some days we are available for walk-in people who want a date, ”said Mattoni.
Mattoni provides general primary care. She is certified in family medicine and concussion care. She does annual exams, physical exams for children and exams for healthy women.
The Front Street Clinic has traditionally served the homeless population. Last year it expanded to include all low-income patients who have difficulty accessing health care. There is a sliding scale of fees and a case manager can help patients register for Medicaid.
Serving the homeless population is always a priority and Mattoni finds the job rewarding.
“They are kind of like the forgotten part of society and I treat everyone like they are my family. It doesn’t matter who you are. We are all human. We all have the same needs and that respect goes a long way, ”said Mattoni.
Mattoni moved to Juneau from Cleveland where she worked in the emergency room. She met homeless people there, but she says working on Front Street is very different.
“It’s a family practice. It’s not just about managing their illnesses, but also about managing chronic illnesses for a long time. In the emergency room, you would only see them for one episodic visit. Here I actually follow them and follow the progress of their medical care, ”said Mattoni.
Mattoni is the sole provider of the health center. As Front Street shifted from SEARCH to its own nonprofit, it cut behavioral and dental health services due to budget constraints.
But the association recently received a federal grant of $ 220,000 and will soon be recruiting a behavioral health specialist and another case manager. Dental services are still not in the near future.
Board chairman Dr Carl Heine said the clinic outsources management services to Alaska Island Community Services, based in Wrangell. The board is considering the idea of completely handing over the clinic to the health care organization.
“Our primary concern is that the clinic continues to exist and operate and continue to fulfill its mission of serving the homeless and underserved with quality medical care. We are not necessarily, as a board, concerned that we are running it, ”said Heine.
Heine said the new funding and his main federal grant of $ 385,000 are both renewable and will hopefully keep the clinic sustainable.
The long-term plan is to locate the Front Street Community Health Center within the Housing First facility to be built in Lemon Creek.
The Front Street Community Health Center is holding an open house the first Friday, November 6. Admire the artwork in the lobby, grab refreshments, and meet the new nurse practitioner. The clinic is located at 225 Front Street, Suite 202. It also hosts a fundraiser until the end of the year to match a donation of $ 50,000 from Northern Light United Church.