Family health

Family Health Service office promises affordable care in Bellevue | Health

Family Health Services, a nonprofit founded in 1982 in Burley, Idaho, will open a new office at 602 N. Main St. in Bellevue this winter. The facility will provide deeply discounted medical, dental and behavioral health services to eligible residents.

The new facility will provide a close-to-home option for Wood River Valley residents who traveled to Fairfield and Twin Falls for FHS services. It will be staffed with 19 medical providers and support staff.

The non-profit organization serves Medicaid, Medicare beneficiaries and the uninsured. A sampling of costs: 50% to 80% off dental services, 60% to 90% off medical procedures, deep discounts on pharmaceutical drugs, and free family planning services for those living below the line of federal poverty.

Family Health Services is governed by a volunteer Board of Directors made up of a majority of patients from the health care center representing the population served.

The Bellevue facility will offer a sliding scale of rebates to families earning 200% or less of the poverty line on the federal poverty scale. The poverty line is $25,465 for a family of four with two children and $17,308 for a single parent with one child.

About 7.2 percent of Blaine County residents live in poverty, according to 2019 data from the U.S. Census Bureau, or about one in 14 people.

The FHS facility will be open to anyone in the area who qualifies for its services. In 2020, more than 3,410 people in Blaine County and Stanley received FHS services. Almost all were on Medicaid, Medicare or were uninsured.

News of the new facility was greeted with enthusiasm and gratitude by Bellevue City Council on Monday.

“I’m very excited about this,” said Mayor Ned Burns. “You will fill an important niche.”

FHS CEO Aaron Houston presented plans for the facility at a city council meeting on Monday. He thanked donors Conrad Construction, Dr. Grant Stevens and others for making the office possible, including a major grant of approximately $1 million from the St. Luke’s Wood River Foundation.

“Without them, we wouldn’t be able to come here at all,” Houston said.

Houston said the facility will be able to provide cancer screenings and dental cleanings and maintain a focus on “low-income and underserved” members of the community. He said some staff hires have ended, but the office is still looking for a behavioral health therapist, who must have a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) degree.

“There’s a lack of advisers there,” Houston said. “Sometimes working with low-income people is seen as less desirable.”

The Main Street building will be renovated this fall, with an opening date scheduled for January or February.