Morrell closure will affect health care providers - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

Morrell closure will affect health care providers

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SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KTIV) -- The union representing the workers, UFCW 1142, says workers will be paid through April 19th or 20th, depending on their shift. They'll also have medical and dental insurance coverage until that day, but then what?

The Siouxland Community Health Center serves those who have insurance and those who don't. Right now, they have about one-thousand patients with John Morrell insurance.

"Once they become uninsured, that changes our uninsured rate here at the Health Center from 47% to 52%. So it's a pretty significant impact for us here, as well," said Michelle Stephan.

But that's not all. The Center's CEO Michelle Stephan says the job losses could create a domino effect at the clinic for uninsured patients.

"We anticipate that we will be providing care to more individuals especially as soon as they lose their insurance. They now know there is a resource available to them,so we anticipate our overall population to increase as well; our patient load to increase," said Stephan.

That's why the Health Center workers have been working to get out information on assistance with John Morrell employees. They had representatives attend informational meetings to help workers answer questions on their soon "uninsured" status.

"But that was a common theme, 'What do we do now?' Because they do have chronic conditions, they do have chronic health problems," said Stephan.

It's a similar story at Family 1st Dental in South Sioux City. About 8-percent of their patients are affiliated with John Morrell. So they took action as soon as the closure was announced.

"We comprised a letter that we sent out to all our active patients saying that we were sorry to hear about the closing of the plant, and that if they had dental needs, that we would make special time set aside for them to get them in to get things taken care of before their dental insurance expired," said Dr. Doug Barr.

That's made things pretty busy at Family 1st for the past few weeks. And while they know the future is uncertain, they're willing to work with patients to help them get the dental care they need... but often over look when money gets tight.

"And I believe that dental care in itself, although I may not believe with the reasoning behind it, it's one of those items that 'we can do without that for right now. You know, we're not having any immediate problem, and we're not aware of anything, so we're just gonna set that aside and we'll try to do something later when can afford it," said Dr. Barr.

And while in the end John Morrell's closure could hit their bottomline, for both Family 1st Dental, and the Siouxland Community the number one priority is taking care of patients who are about to become uninsured.

Family First Dental says it will do everything it can to keep its patients, and continue serving their dental needs.

The Siouxland Community Health Center is applying for federal grant money to help them off-set the cost of a growing "uninsured" population.

Much of that, Michelle Stephan says, will be made possible through the Health Care Reform bill passed by Congress.

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