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First lady to honor health clinic funded by federal stimulus

  • Story Highlights
  • Caroline Family Practice is one of 126 proposed clinics to receive stimulus funds
  • Clinic to provide low-income Virginians with inexpensive health care
  • First lady Michelle Obama is visiting the clinic Monday
From Rachel Streitfeld
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- On a sunny day in March, about 25 contractors clustered in a dusty former grocery store in Bowling Green, Virginia. Construction was slow, and they hoped this new project -- a health care center funded by stimulus dollars -- could help steer their struggling businesses back toward stability.

First lady Michelle Obama will spotlight the success of a stimulus-funded health clinic in Virginia.

First lady Michelle Obama will spotlight the success of a stimulus-funded health clinic in Virginia.

Four months later, and three weeks behind schedule because of electrical problems, first lady Michelle Obama on Monday will help cut the ribbon on the health center and declare the project a stimulus success story.

The Caroline Family Practice was one of 126 proposed clinics to receive stimulus funds from Washington to both create jobs and emphasize preventive care. The clinic will provide low-income Virginians with inexpensive medical, dental and mental health care.

When CNN visited the site in March, Rod Manifold, who heads the umbrella nonprofit Central Virginia Health Services, said the clinic would serve 3,000 to 4,000 people and create as many as 30 long-term jobs. It should also relieve crowding at a burdened health center nearby.

Manifold received a $1.3 million stimulus check from the Department of Health and Human Services in March and had 120 days to turn a vacant supermarket into an operating clinic. And he said his government contacts were understanding about the short construction delay.

"They don't slap you around too much. They push you hard, and they want you to do it," he said. "That is always a challenge to us to try to get it done and operational."

The construction job went to a Richmond, Virginia-based contractor with employees who live in the area.

Soon, similar construction should be under way across the country. While visiting another health clinic last month, Obama announced another $851 million in stimulus funds to build or renovate 1,500 health centers nationwide.

One challenge Manifold sees in the future: continuing to fund the clinic.

When the stimulus money stops flowing two years from now, the health clinics will need to find alternate sources of funding to remain in operation.

All About Michelle ObamaEconomic StimulusHealth Care Issues

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