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Photo: Joanna Richards
Photo: Joanna Richards

Children's Clinic is on the road to recovery

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Earlier this fall, the North Country Children's Clinic, now known as the North Country Family Health Center, was in serious trouble. The Watertown not-for-profit thought it would have to close the clinic and shut down their WIC program. The director, who had been on the job for only two months, announced his resignation.

But now, things have turned around.

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Reported by

Zach Hirsch
Reporter and Producer

When financial problems brought the clinic to the edge last month, Samaritan Medical Center and the Department of Health stepped in to help. The two parties bought time by agreeing to fund the clinic for one month. There was also talk of an agreement that would extend the funding for a whole six months.  

That deal is now official. Samaritan Medical Center issued a press release on Monday saying that the three parties have signed on to what’s called a “temporary operator agreement,” in which Samaritan takes the reins.

Krista Kittle is Samaritan’s marketing director.

This temporary operator agreement essentially formalizes what’s been in place over the last month. It outlines 180 days for this agreement to be in effect. And that can be extended by the department of health if they feel necessary.

During the 6 months, Samaritan will manage the clinic’s day-to-day operations to keep it fully functional. Kittle wants to make it clear that, even though Samaritan’s role is temporary, the focus is on getting the clinic’s finances back on track for the long term.  

The word “temporary” is confusing for people. It is the expectation at the end of this agreement that we will step away and we will have a model that’s self-sustaining for a long time.

An important part of moving forward is that Samaritan has hired an interim executive director for the clinic. Joey Marie Horton has experience working for the clinic, and she’s also directed other nonprofits. Her position could become permanent when Samaritan steps down as temporary operator.  

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