Primary Health Care, Inc. receives $537,140 to build new community health center in Ames


Zoë Woods/Iowa State Daily

Primary Health Care Inc. has four health centers and one dental clinic in Des Moines. Sen. Tom Harkin announced recently new center will be built, this time for the residents of Story County.

Zoë Woods

A community health center will be built in Ames by next year.

Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, announced Sept. 13 that Primary Health Care Inc. will receive funds from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to begin the construction of the new facility.

“Under the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare, we have put more money to open more community health centers around the country,” Harkin said. “One of those is in Ames; they’ve been working for a couple years or more to get everything together to open it.”

Ryan Crane, development director for the incorporation, said the money was allotted by the Health Resources and Services Administration, an agency of the Department of Health and Human Services.

“We were granted this pool of money because we will be providing health services to underserved residents in Story County,” Crane said.

Primary Health Care applied for a new access point through the administration.

Grants are given out in order to help areas with poor social indicators. Story County has a high percentage of cigarette smokers, diabetics, binge drinkers and people who live below the poverty line, Crane said, and that is why Primary Health Care was granted the money, to serve the population.

“The goal is to serve upward of 4,000 Story County residents with this new pool of money,” Crane said.

Harkin said it is important for the public to have these community health facilities. 

However, because Republicans in the House are trying to defund Obamacare, it will be difficult to provide the necessary care if the facilities don’t have the funds to do so.

“Again, this is under the Affordable Care Act … and people have to understand that when there is Ted Cruz and others, and the people in the House, Republicans, are saying that they want to defund Obamacare, well that means they want to defund this also,” Harkin said. “We need these community health centers.”

In case Obamacare is defunded, Crane knows Primary Health Care’s project will not be affected.

“We will be getting [the money] from [the  Health Resources and Services Administration], so actually it shouldn’t impact us too much one way or the other,” Crane said. “If the government is temporarily defunded it should not jump our progress.”

Primary Health Care has been working with many companies in the area in order to find a location for the new


“We are working with community partners and meeting with the Story County Community Foundation, with Mary Greeley Medical Center, with the McFarland Clinic, with a lot different folks in the area trying to determine where the best spot for us is,” Crane said.

Crane said the project should be finished by Feb. 1, 2014, at which point  Primary Health Care will provide basic health care and referral services for behavioral health, primary care, mental health, substance abuse and chronic health conditions that relate to the health of the population of Story County.

Crane said the new health facility would serve many of the residents in Story County in need of medical provisions.

“We would certainly not turn away students, but our experience is either students often times have insurance with their parents or if they don’t,” Crane said. “Often times, they get health insurance through the university.”

Crane said he doesn’t believe students will be the majority of people Primary Health Care receives for care.

Crane said he hopes that as the service branches out in Story County, it will be able to enhance its already fairly good reach in central Iowa.