Funding returns for Schenectady clinic

Schenectady County Legislature Chairwoman Susan E. Savage, D-Niskayuna, announced on Tuesday, Dec. 18, that the Schenectady Free Health Clinic has received $125,000 in grant funding from the state Department of Health.

Gov. Eliot Spitzer had cut the Franklin Street clinic's grant money in October, saying that it was no longer available.

State Assembly Minority Leader James Tedisco, R-Schenectady, took the cut as a personal attack for his outspoken criticism of the governor's driver's license proposal for illegal immigrants.

When it looked like the free clinic would not receive funds, Tedisco spearheaded a private fundraising effort that included a $25,000 anonymous donation. But this month the clinic ran out of operating funds.

As recently as a week ago it looked like the clinic might close due to a lack of funds, said Savage.

This is great news for the clinic and for the community, said Savage of this week's funding. She noted that the services of the free clinic were invaluable.

"We can assure you these funds will continue to uphold the mission and determination of this clinic, providing much needed health services for Schenectady County's uninsured citizens," she said.

The clinic received its first check for $100,000 on Wednesday, Dec. 12, and a subsequent check for $25,000 on Thursday, Dec. 13.

"It is important and significant to the families and children of Schenectady that the funding for the clinic has been reinstated, but it is late; it has not been expedited," said Tedisco. "The governor does not know how to discuss things with the other side. His is a governance of vengeance."

Savage said that when the clinic was on the brink of a crisis, she made it clear to the governor and to the Department of Health that the funding was a non-partisan issue.

"The county Legislature spent money last year to keep the clinic open and it will remain open to provide health services to the uninsured," said Savage. "Our sincerest thanks go to the governor and his staff at the Department of Health for making this happen."

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