NORFOLK - A Northeast Nebraska health care clinic is marking a decade of working to break down barriers to accessing quality health care.

Norfolk-based Midtown Health Center hosted community officials Tuesday morning to celebrate their 10th anniversary of being a federally qualified health center.

They first opened their doors in 1999, and MHC officials say their focus since then has been to ensure those with financial challenges to still receive quality health care.

"Federal funding gives us stability," said Midtown Health CEO Kathy Nordby. "When you're serving the uninsured who perceive this as a free clinic - and we all know health care isn't free - having that financial support year in and year out really makes a difference. They have an expectation that we serve those people."

Nordby says a sliding fee scale and a focus on preventative-based care have allowed those even without insurance to regularly get the help they need.

"Some of these people have been pretty beaten up by life and treated differently elsewhere in the community. We want to be that safe place where they are comfortable coming here and they know that we want their best health care. Then they rise to the occasion and they believe that maybe they should take a step toward their health care as well."

Those efforts seem to be paying off. Data from 2018 shows that Midtown Health Center served 6,348 patients last year, and had 20,189 patient visits. And there are more initiatives to come in the next ten years and beyond.

"We're trying to bring a pharmacist into our facility on a regular basis to consult," Nordby said. "Sometimes patients will come to us and they'll have 8-10 different medications and sometimes they're just overwhelmed. Using a pharmacist to better structure that and reduce the number of medications saves cost but also saves complications."

It’s a community-based approach that many in the community believe is breaking down the many barriers to quality health care for the less fortunate.