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Rural Health Care Inc., Avera announce area collaboration

CHAMBERLAIN — Rural Health Care Inc. (RHCI), in collaboration with Avera, will begin operating Dakota Family Medical Center in Chamberlain, providing service to six central South Dakota counties, as well as residents of the Lower Brule and Crow Creek Indian Reservations.

Dakota Family Medical Center is approved as a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC). This collaboration, which launched Thursday, brings together the benefits associated with an FQHC designation and the expertise and technology of Avera.

Created in 1991 under federal law, FQHCs are “safety net” health care providers that charge for services on a sliding-fee scale based on family income and size, and provide services to all regardless of their ability to pay or health insurance status. Established in 1987, Rural Health Care Inc. operates six other community-based and one school-based health center in central South Dakota communities.

“Avera’s willingness and enthusiasm to collaborate with RHCI provides a value-added opportunity for both organizations,” Jim Hardwick, CEO of Rural Health Care Inc., said in a news release. “The collaboration will allow the health center to reach more citizens in need of quality health care than could be achieved individually. In today’s health care climate, where serving more patients in a cost-effective manner is the goal, we are very confident that the delivery model in Chamberlain may well become a model of collaboration for others.”

Dakota Family Medical Center, in partnership with Avera, is located at 101 S. Front St., and will see patients in Chamberlain. The existing facilities, staff, services, access to specialty services, and technology, currently provided by Avera, are being contracted to RHCI. In addition, benefits offered through RHCI include the sliding-fee scale and reduced prescription drug pricing. Employees of the facility remain Avera employees, who are contracted under the direct leadership of RHCI.

-Source: Rural Health Care Inc. and Avera