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ACMC recognized as financial advocate for patients, employees

WILLMAR -- Support for patients and employees dealing with financial difficulties helped earn Affiliated Community Medical Centers a financial advocacy award from Lutheran Social Service.

The awards were recently announced by LSS Financial Counseling Service.

Other recipients included the Minnesota Attorney General's Office, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, the Housing Preservation Program and the Minnesota Home Ownership Center.

ACMC, a regional multispecialty health network with 11 clinics in central and southwestern Minnesota, has an 18-year history of referring people to LSS Financial Counseling who are having trouble paying on their accounts. The clinic also works with patients to develop reasonable payment plans based on their unique situation, which prevents accounts from going to an outside collection agency.

ACMC offers an employee assistance program to its employees through LSS as well.

The LSS awards honor organizations who have been financial advocates for people facing foreclosure, victimized by financial scams or experiencing an overwhelming amount of debt, possibly for the first time.

"People facing financial stress and chaos are often looked upon as having made poor decisions, and are viewed by many as people who should just suffer the consequences of their situation," said Cherrish Holland, a financial counselor with LSS Financial Counseling Service in Willmar.

But in many cases, people can be in financial distress through no fault of their own and are in need of support to restore their financial wellness, she said.

Referring patients for safe financial counseling and debt management plans is "a vital role" for ACMC, said Mary Sagedahl, credit manager at ACMC. "We recognize the value of financial wellness for our patients and the community," she said.