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The number of people without adequate health coverage increases every year. It can be difficult for those who fall into this category to get appropriate medical attention. However, thanks to the Dennison family, this group now has easier access to medical care.
LaRohnda and Goldie Dennison operated a medical billing company, serving doctors throughout Utah, Wyoming and Nevada. As they worked, the mother-daughter duo became aware of a growing need for obstetricians and gynecologists on the West side of the Salt Lake Valley. To fulfill the need, the Dennisons decided to open their own women's health center, and the result was the West Valley Community Health Clinic in West Valley City, which opened in February 2003.
The clinic had such a great response that shortly after it opened LaRohnda and her mother could barely keep up with the volume of patients. They were unprepared for the number of indigent and uninsured people who frequented the clinic and discovered a need for family practice doctors. LaRohnda and Goldie decided to turn their clinic into a nonprofit organization to better serve their patients. LaRohnda's brother, Cydore, joined them in the business; they expanded to include three OB/GYNs and two family practice doctors; and added ultrasounds and financial counseling to their list of services.
Today, LaRohnda says the clinic delivers around 70 babies per month and has more than 100,000 visits per year. Fees are levied on a sliding scale. If a patient can't pay, she meets with the clinic's financial counselor to find out if there are programs available that can assist her. Patients are never turned away, but both LaRohnda and Goldie believe patients should contribute even in a small way so they are more motivated to adhere to the doctor's prescribed treatment.
The eventual goal for the Dennisons is to gain enough community support for the West Valley Community Health Clinic that they can bring in more providers and use the same model to open clinics in other cities.