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Laura Seitz, Deseret News
Midvale Mayor JoAnn Seghini, Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams and Kurt Micka, executive director at Utah Partners for Health, speak to the media at the opening of Mid-Valley Health Clinic in Midvale on Thursday, March 27, 2014.
For all families seeking a medical home, this is home," Seghini said. "It's definitely cheaper than waiting until things are desperate and going for emergency care. —Midvale Mayor Joann Seghini

MIDVALE — A new health clinic, at the same site as Salt Lake County's first recreation center, aims to bring much-needed health services closer to residents.

"Keeping our residents healthy is better than helping them deal with the some of the health conditions that can result from not getting timely care," Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams said at a media event marking the opening of the Mid-Valley Health Clinic, 8446 S. Harrison St.

"We want people to get healthy and stay healthy," McAdams said, noting that patients can also use the adjacent and recently remodeled Copperview Recreation Center.

The Mid-Valley Health Clinic is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. all weekdays except Thursdays, when it's open from noon to 8 p.m.

The clinic provides various services, including adult and child health care, health care for the elderly, immunizations and health screenings, and lab work. Staff can also offer referrals to low-cost imaging and dental services from partnering organizations.

"No one should go without access to health care," said Kurt Micka, executive director of Utah Partners for Health, which received more than $625,000 from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to support the new clinic.

The funds are part of health center impact grants made possible by the Affordable Care Act.

The clinic accepts Medicaid, Children's Health Insurance Plan, Primary Care Network, Medicare and most private insurances. It also offers a sliding fee discount to qualified low-income patients who are uninsured. A certified application counselor is also available on-site to help people enroll for coverage with the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

The enrollment deadline is approaching, with the first open enrollment period ending March 31. All Americans must have health insurance coverage by that day or incur a penalty fee in the coming year.

Gov. Gary Herbert, who has long been critical of the Affordable Care Act, said Thursday he would encourage Utahns to sign up for coverage.

"We believe in the rule of law in Utah, whether you like the law or don't like the law, and I think it was flawed in many ways in its inception," the governor said during the taping of his monthly news conference on KUED Ch. 7.

"There are opportunities out there for people to get health care in the private sector and also the Affordable Care Act, so take advantage of those opportunities," Herbert said.

Micka said the clinic would not be possible without the health reform law. Approximately 5,000 people are expected to visit the clinic in its first year.

Midvale Mayor Joann Seghini said the clinic should serve as an alternative to expensive emergency room visits.

"Overuse of the emergency room costs all of us extra money," she said, adding that patients should also try to visit the same doctor's office for most of their care, making any medical history more accurate.

"For all families seeking a medical home, this is home," Seghini said. "It's definitely cheaper than waiting until things are desperate and going for emergency care."

Utah's 13 health center organizations, including the Mid-Valley clinic as part of the Association for Utah Community Health, operate about 40 clinics throughout Utah. The centers provide more than 345,000 patient visits, including treatment for acute and chronic illness, preventive care, prenatal care, oral health and behavioral health to more than 115,000 patients annually.

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