HONESDALE— The United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) awarded over $1.5 million in funding to the Wayne Memorial Community Health Centers (WMCHC) through the Health Center Cluster grant.

According to a release form Representative Matt Cartwright's office announcing the grant's distribution, the Health Center Cluster grant “provides for expanded and sustained national investment in health centers.”

Representative Cartwright, a member of the House Appropriations Committee, stated in said release, “I believe everyone should have access to affordable, quality care.

“That is why I am a strong advocate of programs that enable crucial providers like Wayne Memorial Community Health Centers to continue to provide families and individuals with the care they need to live healthy lives.”

Fred Jackson, WMCHC Executive Director, stated “It feels good,” to have received the grant.

Jackson stated WMCHC utilizes the funding to “develop primary care resources in rural areas” and “help underwrite care for low-income individuals.”

He noted $500,000 of the grant funding is earmarked to help reduce costs for the underprivileged.

With 65 practitioners and 300 employees, WMCHC provides services for primary care, women's health, behavioral health and dentistry.

A federally qualified health center within the Wayne Memorial Health System, “WMCHC offers healthcare to everyone, accepts most private insurance and medical assistance, and offers a sliding fee scale based on income,” states a release.

“We serve both the general population and the underserved population,” said Jackson.

He further explained this grant is the latest of an ongoing three year renewal the community health centers have been awarded since 2007.

This three-year renewal is the highest available through the program, said Jackson, noting it indicates federal satisfaction with the work done at WMCHC.

Jackson elaborated that the WMCHC first received $65,000 from the program in 2007, growing over time to the $1.5 million grant received this year.

The funding growth mirrored WMCHC's own growth, rising form 4,000 individuals served to 38,000 in areas of Wayne, Pike, Susquehanna and Lackawanna counties.

The government “recognized our growth, recognized we're good stewards of federal money, and we're achieving the goals they asked us to achieve,” said Jackson.

Continuing to push that growth, Jackson noted WMCHC is looking to expand development of the Forest City offices with a 5,000 square-foot building expected to open in the spring.

“It's a privilege to help develop service in rural areas,” he said.

—Information from a release was used in this story.