Tia Clifford loves that she gets to help people smile again.
Clifford works for Heritage Health as a dental biller. During her 12-year career in the Dental Department she has seen what providing good dental care can do for people who can't afford it.
“I've seen patients who are afraid to smile because of their teeth and they're not happy with their appearance,” said Clifford. “We're not for profit, so really, this is about helping them feel better about their smile. It's very rewarding to work here.”
Clifford was born and raised in Coeur d'Alene. Her parents, David and Sue Walker, instilled a strong sense of giving back to the community.
“From a young age I saw all that my parents were involved in and I knew it was important to help people. It's why I love working here.”
That desire to help others is the driving force behind Heritage Health. Originally named Dirne Community Clinic, Heritage Health was largely conceived by the pioneering efforts of Lidwina Dirne. Lidwina personally witnessed the devastating impact of inaccessibility to health care on a single mother with disabilities. That sparked the beginning of a volunteer-operated free clinic.
Demand for services grew annually and for 15 years, the clinic was supported by donations, in-kind contributions and volunteers. In 2003, Dirne received federal funding and the next year the clinic opened its doors as a full-time community health center.
Today, Heritage Health offers the complete spectrum of care for North Idaho residents, including medical, mental health, dental, and social services. It has addressed people's lack of insurance or limited financial resources with its sliding scale payment model based on income.
Heritage Health serves nearly 30,000 people in the region, with locations in Coeur d'Alene, Post Falls, Rathdrum, St. Maries and Kellogg.
“We truly are a community health center,” said Heritage Health CEO Mike Baker. “From our humble beginnings to where we are now is a credit to the North Idaho community, our staff and all the people who have supported our mission along the way.”
Lidwina Dirne passed away in 2013 just as the Dirne Community Clinic was being rebranded as Heritage Health.
“While she did not live long enough to see the launch of the new name, Heritage Health became an even more fitting name due to her influence on health care and our community,” said Baker. “Lidwina Dirne left behind a wonderful heritage.”
For more information, visit http://myheritagehealth.org
--Written by Marc Stewart, Director of Sponsored Content