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FUNDING CUTS FORCE CLOSING OF SCRUGGS CLINIC IN HOUSING PROJECT

Geneva B. Scruggs Community Health Care Center has closed its health center for low-income families in the Kenfield-Langfield Apartments.

Officials attributed the decision to cuts in reimbursement and uneven use of the clinic by patients in the housing project. Ten workers lost their jobs.

"We just couldn't do it anymore, what with the economics of Buffalo and the health-care industry. You can't pay people with air," said Michael Miller, chief executive officer of Geneva B. Scruggs.

The health center opened at 41 Tower St. in 1989. It initially operated for 15 hours a week but a few years later went full time.

Miller said there were periods when as many as 200 people used the health center in a month. But there also were times when as few as 30 people showed up in a month, making it difficult to justify keeping it open.

Officials said transportation would be made available to tenants who want rides to the two remaining Geneva B. Scruggs sites: the central office at 561 Kensington Ave. and the Main Street Health Center at 1461 Main St.

The organization, which cares for many uninsured and underinsured patients, closed its Jesse Nash Health Clinic at 608 William St. in 1996, following cuts in state and federal funding.

"We feel bad. We know people would prefer to walk to services instead of getting on a van," Miller said. "But we're willing to transport anyone who needs it."