SPOKANE — The Washington State University Intercollegiate College of Nursing has announced that its People’s Clinics will cease taking new patients immediately and will close at the end of July 2007 as existing patients are assisted in finding new medical providers.

Currently, the college operates four nurse-managed clinics throughout the community: the main clinic located at the downtown YWCA, Havermale Alternative High School, Spokane Community College and People’s Clinic West, which serves Spokane Falls Community College students. All four clinics will close by the end of July.

The original People’s Clinic, located in downtown Spokane, opened in 1998 and was designed to improve access to health care and mental health services in the Spokane community for underinsured and low-income families, to provide primary healthcare education to WSU Intercollegiate College of Nursing undergraduate and graduate students, and to develop a community partnership model of primary healthcare.

Due to a demand in the community, three more clinics were established over the course of nine years with the last clinic opening in 2006 at Spokane Community College. Last year, the clinic served approximately 3,000 patients.

A majority of the funding for operation of the clinics has come from research and federal grants including a Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) grant which provided $400,000 each year over the past five years. The college recently was informed that federal funding was not renewed effective June 30.

“We’ve developed close ties to the Spokane community over the past nine years and regret that we can no longer continue operating the People’s Clinic,” said Anne Hirsch, interim dean at the college. “We have worked hard to keep the clinics in operation for as long as possible, but due to a lack of sustainable funding, we are unable to keep the clinics open.”

The clinics also provided primary health care and mental health services for high school and college students in the community. The clinic is a member of the Medical Clinics group in the Spokane community that cares for patients meeting specific low-income criteria, including lack of healthcare coverage.

All current patients will be contacted, and their records will be kept on file until 2017. The college is working in conjunction with the network of community clinics to make reasonable provision for continued care. Patients will be contacted by mail within the next week.