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Patient eligibility expands at Nagel clinic

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The Arthur Nagel Community Clinic has not seen a dropoff in its patient count since the coronavirus pandemic started and has instituted some operational changes intended to keep its work area and its patients safe during the outbreak.

The nonprofit facility that is the county’s only free and lowcost health care provider for low income county residents also is operating under revised regulations this year that allow the clinic to stay open longer and to serve a larger portion of the disadvantaged population, officials said.

Admission guidelines were revised since the start of the year that allow county residents to qualify for health care services if they make within 250 percent of the federal poverty-level income, said Executive Director Chuck Lutke.

Previously, no one making more than 200 percent of the poverty-level income could qualify for services.

Under the new guidelines, an individual making up to $31,225 a year would qualify for clinic services. Last year, the limit was $24,980. For families of four, the income cutoff is now $64,375, up from $51,500.

Those who would like to be treated at the clinic must fill out an application which is available at the clinic, at 1116 12th St. in Bandera, or at the satellite clinic in Lakehills when it is open.

That clinic is located at the Lakehills Civic Center, which has suspended its operations temporarily to abide by rules limiting the size of public gatherings in response to the coronavirus.

The center is located at 11225 Park Road 37 in Lakehills.

The clinic is open for patients on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, but its hours have been extended by an hour each day this year.

It now operates from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on those days. Last year, it closed at 4 p.m.

Lutke said the clinic earlier this week tightened up on its intake standards to abide by federal standards concerning the distance people should keep from each other in an effort to keep from contracting the coronavirus.

It now asks all patients, not just those exhibiting flu-like symptoms or with a travel history that make them suspect, not to come directly into the clinic when they are seeking treatment. Instead, all patients are asked

Instead, all patients are asked to call the facility for an appointment and call again when they arrive so a staff member can come out to their car to assess their health and determine if they can be treated at the clinic or need to be referred elsewhere.

The clinic’s waiting room is so small, it’s difficult to keep the six-feet-of-separation rule that is recommended in the fight against coronavirus for places where the public gathers, Lutke said.

Lutke said several low-income clinics across the country have seen patient counts slip since the outbreak was declared a pandemic earlier this month, some by as much as 50 percent.

Nagel’s count has not declined, and Lutke said the center should be able to keep its doors open throughout the outbreak.

The clinic also has announced personnel changes made this year.

Barbara Dauerty, a physician’s assistant in the U.S. Air Force for 20 years and a licensed physician’s assistant since 1978, has been named the center’s medical services provider.

Lydia Gorman is Nagel’s new medications manager, and Kymme Simchak is the center’s information services manager.

In addition, Susan Broa, who has been the clinic’s healthcare coordinator, was named the clinical director.