Cuellar presents over $600,000 grants to Atascosa Health CenterFree Access



From left, Atascosa County Health Center CEO Monty Small, Pleasanton Mayor Travis Hall, Behavioral Health Services Director Noel Laurel, Virginia Herring, Karnes City Mayor, Atascosa Health Director Rayford Mitchell, Dwayne Villanueva, Lillian Cashmer, Maria Garcia, Lajuana Neuman-Leus and U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar with a check for a Capital Assistance for Hurricane Response and Recovery Efforts Program grant, one of the two presented on Oct. 15 for Atascosa Health Center. TOM FIRME | PLEASANTON EXPRESS

From left, Atascosa County Health Center CEO Monty Small, Pleasanton Mayor Travis Hall, Behavioral Health Services Director Noel Laurel, Virginia Herring, Karnes City Mayor, Atascosa Health Director Rayford Mitchell, Dwayne Villanueva, Lillian Cashmer, Maria Garcia, Lajuana Neuman-Leus and U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar with a check for a Capital Assistance for Hurricane Response and Recovery Efforts Program grant, one of the two presented on Oct. 15 for Atascosa Health Center. TOM FIRME | PLEASANTON EXPRESS

At the Atascosa Health Center in Pleasanton on Oct. 15, U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-District 28) presented two grants to Atascosa Health Center totaling $622,400, including a $337,400 for the Health and Human Service (HHS) Capital Assistance for Hurricane Response and Recovery Efforts (CARE) Program and $285,000 through the HHS Health Center Cluster Program.

“Monty and his team have been very, very good at going and getting the extra dollars so that you can provide extra services to the area,” Cuellar said, praising Atascosa Health Center CEO Monty Small.

The CARE Program provides for minor alterations and renovations and equipment costs for health centers affected by hurricanes.

“Mother Nature doesn’t need us. We need Mother Nature. But when it comes and hits us with some weather, we know what sort of damage that can be. Funds will primarily go toward the expansion of the medical and dental services,” Cuellar said, noting that among the equipment for which the grant allocates funding is a backup generator. “That’s so if the weather gets really bad the backup generator will provide even in bad weather.”

The Health Center Cluster Program assists health centers that serve vulnerable populations.

“This particular funding will go toward crucial hires, including two licensed clinical social workers, a licensed professional counselor and for training for staff to ensure that they have the best skills, the best training, so that they can turn around and provide that health care service to folks,” Cuellar said.

He said that this aids mental health support.

“When it comes to the health and education of our community, I’m a big supporter. When I see our community health center, I think we’ve put $1.6 billion, I think we need to do more, but under the circumstances that keep us at the level to where we don’t lose any funding because there have been attacks on the funding part of it. We have to make sure we all stay together and protect funding for our community health centers,” he said.

Small said the Health Center Cluster will “bring Atascosa Health Center to the next level in behavioral health.”

Atascosa Health Center Behavioral Health Services Director Noel Laurel said he looks forward to the integration of mental and physical care.

“For a long time, it was thought that the mind was over here and the body was over here. It took a long time, but today we realize it’s all the same system,” he said.

Pleasanton Mayor Travis Hall thanked Atascosa Health Center for all of the services that it provides.

“What you do is a service and I’m so glad you provide it to the people of this community and of South Texas. Congratulations. It’s unfortunate that it comes down to money, but there it is. Good luck to you in your future,” he said.

Atascosa Health Center is a federally qualified Health Center that offers health services currently at six locations in Atascosa, Karnes, Wilson, Live Oak and McMullen Counties.

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