WIC nutrition program in St. Lawrence County to remain in operation following deal with Samaritan Medical Center
Friday, October 11, 2013 - 9:57 am

The Women’s Infants and Children (WIC) nutrition program in St. Lawrence County will remain in operation beyond today.

The state Department of Health says it working with all concerned to keep the North Country Children’s Clinic’s services running beyond the announced shutdown date of today.

The department has appointed Samaritan Medical Center of Watertown as temporary operator of the clinic, also known as North Country Family Health Center (NCFHC), and SMC has given the operation, based in Watertown, a loan of up to $200,000 “to sustain operations through the next month. DOH, SMC and NCFHC will work together to develop a long-term, sustainable solution that meets the needs of the community.”

The DOH says it is working “to ensure there is no disruption of services to NCFHC patients, families and residents.

Of particular concern to the people in St. Lawrence County it serves was the suspension of the Women’s Infants and Children (WIC) nutrition program, which works with women and their children to ensure that they get enough nutritious food.

Financial difficulties forced the clinic, which has an office in Canton that runs the county’s WIC program, to announce earlier this week that their operations would be closing as of close of business today, Friday.

DOH said they had met with officials “to discuss and identify immediate actions necessary to sustain services of the Center to serve the needs of the community.”

"I am truly relieved that the Children’s Clinic is working with Samaritan Medical Center to ensure they remain open,” said Assemblywoman Addie Russell (D-Theresa), who had suggested that part of the clinic’s difficulty was caused by state and federal government’s late payments to the agency

“The Children’s Clinic is part of the fabric of the North Country and a vital part of our health care system and while there’s still more work to be done to make sure the clinic keeps its doors open for the long term, today’s meeting was a step in the right direction and an encouraging development,” said state Sen. Patty Ritchie (R-Heuvelton).

North Country Congressman Bill Owens said he will be following the situation closely “and remain available to assist the clinic as it navigates the federal bureaucracy during its return to solid financial ground.”