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New WIC office opens

WIC Clinic Coordinator Stephanie Ross awaits her next client visit Wednesday in the new satellite office within Avera Worthington Specialty Clinic’s building on Ryan’s Road in Worthington. Julie Buntjer/Daily Globe

WORTHINGTON — Nobles County Community Services-Public Health reopened its Women, Infants and Children (WIC) satellite office Wednesday inside the Avera Medical Group clinic on Ryan’s Road in Worthington.

The office, located on the clinic’s second floor between the obstetrics and pediatrics departments, will provide all of the same WIC services offered within the public health offices at the Nobles County Government Center in downtown Worthington.

“We’re just going to be able to serve more clients being at this location — it’s just really convenient,” said Stephanie Ross, a registered nurse and Nobles County WIC coordinator. “I think it’s going to be a win-win situation for everyone involved.”

Kelli Van Grouw, Avera clinic manager, said the plan to host a satellite WIC office came together in the last couple of months.

“We’re happy to do it,” she said. “Part of Avera’s mission is the collaboration — what’s good for the community is good for everybody.”

This is the second time this year that public health has tried to expand services through a satellite office. In February, a satellite clinic opened inside the West Learning Center. That office had to be closed after District 518 needed to take back the space for educational programming.

The satellite clinic will be open at Avera Medical Group Worthington from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays and 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays. The Government Center WIC Clinic hours will remain the same, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.

With the expanded hours on Monday, Ross said they hope to accommodate people who may be unable to get to the clinic before 4:30 p.m.

The state and federally funded WIC is a supplemental nutrition program for infants ages birth to 1 year; children ages 1 to 5; postpartum women for up to six months and breastfeeding women for up to one year.

“We like to educate on healthy eating — nutritious eating — and preventative measures like obesity, diabetes and other ongoing health problems,” Ross said.

Clients must be income-eligible for WIC program benefits, and Ross said individuals who already receive medical assistance, Social Security benefits, fuel assistance, TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) funds, food stamps or have children who qualify for free and reduced lunches are automatically eligible for WIC.

In addition to the educational component, WIC provides vouchers to clients for basic, nutritious foods including milk, cheese,

cereal, juice and eggs, as well as options including peanut butter, certain varieties of beans, whole grain and whole wheat bread, whole wheat soft tortillas, brown rice and oatmeal. Infant formulas are also available when breastfeeding isn’t an option for new mothers.

Ross said Nobles County WIC currently serves about 1,150 clients per month. Most of their clientele visit WIC clinic staff once every three months. During the visits, the children are weighed and measured, a hemoglobin check is performed on both the mother and child, the educational component is met, and the vouchers are distributed.

The local WIC office is reimbursed $14.50 for each client it sees, and those funds pay for the salaries and insurance of the four full-time WIC staff members. Three staffers are registered nurses, and the fourth is a public health nurse.

Ross said she doesn’t have a goal, per se, on how many clients WIC would like to serve locally, but said she’d like to see as many clients as possible.

“We need to educate clients on healthy eating (and) being active and promote a healthy lifestyle,” she said. “Everything is so expensive. If anyone can help you in any way to purchase foods for the home, I would highly recommend it.”

Both the Avera and Sanford clinics in Worthington provide referrals to WIC, along with other agencies such as the Southwest Minnesota Opportunity Council, Helping Hands Pregnancy Center, Family Planning and Nobles County Family Services.

To schedule an appointment with WIC at either the Government Center location or the new satellite office at Avera Medical Group Worthington, call 295-5360.

Julie Buntjer

Julie Buntjer joined the Globe newsroom in December 2003, after working more than nine years for weekly newspapers. A native of Worthington, she has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism. Find more of her stories of farm life, family and various other tidbits at

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