Scenic Bluffs celebrates 25 years of top quality health care
Over 25 years ago, in the rural community of Cashton, a group of community leaders identified a need for proper health care amongst their neighbors.
At the time, Cashton received medical care out of a bus from Sparta as the hospital in Sparta and the public health department collaborated on a mobile health unit. The bus would stop in Cashton on a monthly basis to provide clinical services.
Those community leaders felt there should be a better way to offer medical care to members of the Cashton community. They completed a needs assessment by walking in local parades and surveying community members.
Scenic Bluffs Community Health Center opened its doors in 1994 in downtown Cashton offering medical and chiropractic services. One year later, administration decided to add dental services to the health center’s repertoire and the organization soon outgrew its facility.
In order to bring an affordable health center to Cashton, the founders identified the Community Health Center Grant, which was available to build primary care capacity. There was and still is funding available on the federal level to open health care access in underserved areas.
“This federal program funds 1,100 health centers across the country,” Chief Executive Officer Mari Freiberg said. “When you walk through our doors, we look like every other clinic but the thing that makes all of us different is the way we operate.”
According to Freiberg, Scenic Bluffs offers a sliding-fee scale called the Healthy Neighbor Plan for individuals who are low income, underinsured or uninsured. In 2018, Scenic Bluffs had 21,712 patient visits and served 7,027 patients; 80 percent of whom live below the federal poverty level.
“We really target our services to low-income community members,” Frieberg said. “People don’t necessarily know that’s what we look like because it’s the neighborhood clinic and this is where everybody comes.”
Scenic Bluffs is also unique in the way they approach community outreach. It has collaborative relationships with numerous organizations in the region and state, including area schools, healthcare facilities, coalitions and boards.
“Health care services for people in poverty focuses on some different things in order to figure out how to support people. We do a ton of supportive services for people coming in,” Frieberg explained, adding they ask patients whether or not they have food, transportation and/or proper clothing.
“That’s the thing that makes us very different because we try to specialize on meeting the needs of people. People who have food insecurities or don’t know if their car is going to make it, they care a lot more about those issues than whether or not they come in for primary care,” she added. “We have to understand that if you address those things then they are able to come in for services.”
In 2000, the health center relocated to its current location in what used to be the bowling alley. Now, Scenic Bluffs’ core services include medical, dental, behavioral health and chiropractic.
The Cashton health center also has a pharmacy available to all of its patients. Scenic Bluffs offers interpreter services for all patients with on-site interpreters as well as interpretation tablets.
Scenic Bluffs has health centers in both Cashton and Norwalk, dental services in Viroqua and behavioral health services in Sparta. It also offers help team services in Sparta, Norwalk and at the health center in Cashton.
To celebrate 25 years of providing care to its community, Scenic Bluffs is hosting a community picnic on Thursday, July 25 from 6 to 8:30 p.m. at the health center in Cashton.
The picnic will feature free food, live polka music at 7 p.m. from Brian and the Mississippi Valley Dutchmen and yard games for families. Staff will also be offering tours of the health center.
For more information on Scenic Bluffs and the services it offers visit scenicbluffs.org.