UPDATE: North Country Children's Clinic gets last-minute rescue

Oct 11, 2013

A last-minute deal was struck Thursday to rescue a long-standing health care safety net for needy north country children. The North Country Children's Clinic in Watertown announced Tuesday that it would close suddenly, at the end of the week, because of dire financial problems. Now, the clinic has gotten at least another month of life.

The North Country Children's Clinic has had a tumultuous week. It announced on Tuesday that it would cease operations Friday, but a last-minute deal with Samaritan Medical Center and the state Department of Health will keep it open for at least the next month.

Just as suddenly as the closure announcement came Tuesday, the fortunes of the Children's Clinic took another dramatic turn yesterday. This time, the news was better.

A day of negotiations between the state Department of Health, Watertown's hospital, Samaritan Medical Center, and the clinic's board, yielded a deal that will keep the clinic open for now. It had been planning to quit operations on Friday for a projected three to six months.

Instead, according to an evening statement from the Department of Health, Samaritan Medical Center will temporarily oversee the clinic's finances and operations. Samaritan also agreed to give the Children's Clinic a loan to keep its doors open through the next month.

The Department of Health, the clinic and the hospital will work together to create a long-term plan for financial stability.

The clinic primarily serves people on Medicare and Medicaid, and those with no or inadequate insurance. It recently began seeing adult patients, and decided to change its name to the North Country Family Health Center.