Financially troubled St. Lawrence County WIC provider getting $100,000 interest-free loan
Wednesday, December 18, 2013 - 11:26 am

A beleaguered health agency that provides Women, Infants and Children program services in St. Lawrence County is getting another boost to help it through some financial hard times.

North Country Family Health Center (NCFHC), formerly known as The North Country Children’s Clinic, will receive $100,000 no-interest loan from the Northern New York Community Foundation “as they solidify a sustainable business plan,” a press release from the foundation says.

The NCFHC, based in Watertown with a Canton office, has been one of the largest recipients of Community Foundation grants. The foundation provided a startup grant to the organization in the early 1970s and has provided over $700,000 in grants since then.

“We have a substantial history of investment in the center and its important work and mission,” said foundation executive director Rande S. Richardson. “We have received reasonable assurances that, with Samaritan Medical Center as temporary operator, a viable work plan is being developed that will put the organization back on solid footing for the long term. This is the last best chance we have to see this important community health issue be successfully resolved for all concerned. It’s as much a statement of belief in their work as well as the plan to sustain it,” Richardson said.

The NCFHC declared its money trouble in October and, with state Health Department approval, Samaritan Medical Center in Watertown was appointed as temporary operator of the agency with short-term financing help.

Before that arrangement was made, the agency canceled WIC clinics held regularly in Brasher Falls, Canton, Gouverneur, Massena, Norfolk, Ogdensburg, Potsdam and Star Lake. The temporary restructuring allows the continuation of those clinics.

In other action, the Community Foundation Board approved the following year-end grants:

• food pantries in Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence Counties. $25,000 is going to 42 food pantries and the Watertown Salvation Army soup kitchen to supply their pantries throughout the year.

• North Country Library System. $750 will be used for an e-book and e-reader initiative to help increase accessibility for the visually impaired.