Pitt. Catholic Charities gets $500,000 for free health clinic

Insurer Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield gave $500,000 to a Catholic-run health center for the uninsured Tuesday that should help it get through another year.

Highmark president and CEO Kenneth R. Melani said he hoped the donation would help sustain the center and its clientele until provisions of the Health Care Reform package take effect.

Asked why Highmark didn't opt to help uninsured families obtain health insurance, Kaitlin O'Brien, spokeswoman for Highmark, said the Catholic Charities clinic "is the best place for them to receive appropriate care and be part of the health care system."

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Increasing numbers of uninsured people have turned to the center, located Downtown near Liberty Avenue and Ninth Street, for primary and preventive health care since it opened in 2007. Patients can receive dental care. Its 135 volunteer physicians have treated 6,902 medical and dental patients, averaging about 5,000 visits a year.

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