Ohio Hills Health Services in Barnesville has been awarded a $254,715 Health Center New Access Point grant by the Obama Administration. The local funds, which will be used to open a new site in Guernsey County, are part of grants awarded to support 219 communities, serve an additional 1.25 million additional patients and create 5,640 jobs, according to a press release from the White House.

Ohio Hills Health Services Executive Director Theodore J. Koler said the money will be used to open an office in Quaker City. Koler said the grant application was completed in 2010. Although the application scored high due to the critical need for health care access to residents of Quaker City and surrounding areas, other higher priority projects were funded at that time.

Koler said the idea of opening a location in Quaker City had been discussed for many years. He said a home will be purchased in the village and renovated, as was done with the Freeport office. An existing office building in the village could not be purchased because the grant stipulates that the building cannot be located within the 100-year floodplain. He said the mayor of Quaker City helped with the building search.

Koler said although an exact opening date cannot be provided at this time, work on the project will begin as soon a possible.

We will move as quickly as possible, he said. Koler said he will be hiring an architect soon. The site work must begin within 120 days of the grant award and the architects plans will have to be submitted for state approval.

He expects the Quaker City location to be open by the end of this year.

The Quaker City location will have the potential to give people in Quaker City and surrounding areas access to primary health care without having to travel so far, Koler said.

Once open, Koler said a physician will be available at the Quaker City location once a week. There will also be a full-time physicians assistant and a part time behavioral specialist available there. Koler said services will be expanded based upon need. The Freeport Family Health Center eventually expanded to include dental care, based upon need in that area.

The health care law is making our community health centers stronger and ensuring more Americans get the care they need, said office of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in a press release.

The awards, announced Wednesday, June 20 in Detroit, total $128.6 million and will go to community health centers in 41 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the Northern Mariana Islands.

The press release stated, as community-based and patient-directed organizations, health centers are well positioned to be responsive to the specific health care needs of their community. Through the Affordable Care Acts commitment to expand access to high quality health care for all Americans, these grants will support establishment of new full-time service delivery sites.

Health centers serve more than 20 million patients nationwide and are an integral part of our health care system, said Mary K. Wakefield, Ph.D., R.N., administrator of the Health Resources and Services Administration. These awards demonstrate our commitment to increasing access to quality health care through the creation of new health center sites.

The 5,640 jobs created through the awards announced will go to doctors, nurses, dental providers, and many other staff supporting services to more than 1.25 million new patients.

Ohio Hills Health Services is a non-profit health care operation, organized by communities in Eastern Ohio to promote healthy lifestyles and to provide comprehensive treatment and preventative services for area residents. The primary focus is to provide prompt, courteous and affordable health care that is responsive and sensitive to individual needs.

Ohio Hills currently has three locations including the Barnesville Family Health Center located in the historic Bradfield building on Main Street, the Monroe Family Health Center in Woodsfield and the Freeport Family Health Center in Freeport.

The Quaker City location will enable OHHS to provide health care services in a fourth county.

Physicians and health care providers available at the Barnesville location include: Russel Lee-Wood, M.D., specializing in family practice and emergency medicine; Himalaya Patcha, M.D., specializing in Internal Medicine, Family Practice and Emergency Medicine; Physicians Assistant Natasha Kline and Nurse Practitioners, Amy M. Bardall, C.F.N.P. and Joann Merritt, C.F.N.P.