Sliding scale: New health clinic to open in Aberdeen

Farm Forum

A new community health clinic which will provide medical services on sliding scale fees will open in Aberdeen within the next few months.

Horizon Health Care has been awarded an $810,000 federal grant to open the health care clinic and will receive additional funding annually to operate it, said Jeff Mengenhausen, chief operating officer.

The funds are available through the Affordable Care Act.

Horizon, based in Howard, is a nonprofit organization providing affordable health care at 18 medical and dental clinics in South Dakota.

The organization will hire seven employees in Aberdeen, Mengenhausen said. These will include two mid-level practitioners (either physician’s assistants or nurse practitioners), two nurses, two front office staff and one custodian. Eventually, the health center could employ as many as 20 staff members, he said.

Horizon has looked at several potential sites, but has not yet selected one. The site is expected to be in the southeast quadrant of the city, said Aberdeen City Manager Lynn Lander at the City Council meeting Monday evening.

The site selection will need to be made fairly soon because the new clinic must be open within 120 days, Mengenhausen said. It needs to be open by Jan. 7.

“We are very excited to be able to come to Aberdeen,” Mengenhausen said.

There were more than 350 applicants nationwide, with only 32 receiving grants. Aberdeen was the only clinic to receive a grant in South Dakota, North Dakota, Minnesota, Nebraska, Wyoming and Montana.

The opening of the new clinic is not connected to the closure of the South Dakota Urban Indian Health clinic in Aberdeen in August.

“It is not connected in any way,” Mengenhausen said. “We made our grant application in February, and, at that time, we were planning to partner with them.”

The funding sources for Horizon Health Care are different from those for South Dakota Urban Indian Health, he said.

Patients who utilized South Dakota Urban Indian Health will be welcome to utilize Horizon Health Care, he said.

Charges for medical care at Horizon Health Care are based on a patient’s ability to pay. There can be as much as 80 to 90 percent discounts on medical visits, depending on the patient’s income. A patient could pay as little as $10 a visit, Mengenhausen said.

“The quality care is still there,” he said. “The price is just based on a sliding scale. There is no denying patients based on their ability to pay.”

Horizon will accept all types of medical insurance, including those offered by Sanford and Avera.

“We plan to partner with both Sanford and Avera to provide services that we cannot provide,” Mengenhausen said.

The new community health center will provide a wide range of health services, such as family medicine, pediatrics, emergency treatment, X-ray, lab and mental health services, according to a news release.

Horizon will not offer dental services at the Aberdeen clinic, but plans to work with local dentists to ensure patients have access to dental care, according to the release.

Horizon Health Care is a Federally Qualified Health Center, with the mission of serving the medical, dental and mental health needs of residents in rural and underserved areas.

Aberdeen will be the largest town in the Horizon network. Huron is the next largest town. A few other locations for Horizon clinics include Bryant, DeSmet, Howard, Lake Preston, Martin, Mission, Plankinton, Springfield, Wessington Springs, White River and Woonsocket. A complete list of Horizon Health Care facilities can be viewed at

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