By Barb Arland-Fye
The Catholic Messenger
CLINTON — Ground has been broken for a Community Health Care clinic that will come to fruition in part because of perseverance and the generosity of two Clinton-based Catholic organizations and an Iowa grocery store chain.
Community Health Care Inc., based in Davenport, celebrated the milestone Oct. 8 during a groundbreaking ceremony next door to Clinton Hy-Vee, which donated the land for the clinic. Land acquisition had been a major hurdle before Hy-Vee stepped in.
“This is the third and final piece of a grant we received to expand access to primary care in our region,” said Community Health Care CEO Tom Bowman. “Clinton County faces many challenges to improve access to high quality primary care. CHC is a perfect partner to bring additional resources to the Clinton community.”
The 11,000-square-foot downtown health clinic will offer primary medical, dental and behavioral services, initially serving more than 3,000 medical and dental patients in the Clinton area. “We are expecting to open in summer 2015. The exact date can’t be determined until we have hired a physician,” said Amy Jones, Community Health Care’s director of development.
Funding of $3.2 million for construction of the clinic and equipment to run it comes from the Department of Health and Human Services through the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The funding was part of a $9.6 million grant that also funded clinics in East Moline and Rock Island, Ill.
But the Clinton clinic wouldn’t be able to operate without financial help from the community. The Sisters of St. Francis of Clinton is donating $400,000; Mercy Healthcare Foundation is donating $200,000; and Mercy’s parent corporation, CHE Trinity Health, is donating $100,000.
“The Sisters of St. Francis are committed to a mission of active nonviolence and peacemaking, care for all creation and seeking justice for the marginalized. In a region where there are so many of our brothers and sisters who are in need, we are grateful that so many of Clinton’s community leaders have been able to come together and partner with us to make this project a reality,” said Sister Anne Martin Phelan, president of the Clinton Franciscans. “This facility is a great step forward in helping the uninsured and underinsured of our community receive the healthcare they so desperately need.” She also expressed gratitude to Sen. Tom Harkin and his regional director Alison Hart for their effort to keep the project going and to Hy-Vee for its commitment to the health of its customers.
Clinton County ranks 91st of 99 counties for health factors based on weighted scores for health behaviors, clinical care, social and economic factors, according to the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, Iowa 2014. Clinton County ranks 78th in terms of health outcomes based on an equal weighting of length and quality of life.
“As a non-profit, Catholic medical center, we have advocated for greater access to health care for everyone, regardless of the ability to pay,” said Rod Tokheim, vice president of business development at Mercy Medical Center-Clinton. “The presence of Community Health Care in the Clinton area will help to expand access to health care for many.” While hospital emergency rooms are open for everyone to seek care, “it is not the same as having a true medical home, in terms of continuity of care.”
He noted that “Community Health Centers can also offer a wider range of services than traditional medical providers. Examples of this include low-cost prescriptions and dental care. Both of these have routinely been identified as health needs in our county public health planning initiatives.”
Annual federal grants that Community Health Centers receive help offset the cost of their charity care and the centers can tap into federal student loan forgiveness programs to help recruit physicians, dentists and other health care providers needed in the area, Tokheim added.
The project almost didn’t happen, but the Clinton Franciscans persisted in working through the obstacles – from land acquisition to funding issues, with the support of Mercy Health Foundation, other community leaders and CHC. “We couldn’t have done it without Sr. Anne’s arm twisting,” Bowman said.
Community Health Care Inc., a private, nonprofit organization, is a patient-centered primary medical and dental health care provider that serves vulnerable populations and all people in need. CHC is a Federally Qualified Health Center accredited by the Joint Commission. In a news release, CHC noted the importance of ensuring that patients of health centers have access to mental health to improve overall health outcomes. CHC operates health clinics in Davenport and in East Moline, Moline and Rock Island, Ill.
For more information, call (563) 336-3000 or visit the website: www.chcqca.org.