News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

June 2, 2014

Center preps for new system

Health clinic shifts from ‘open’ to appointment-only treatment

TERRE HAUTE — Effective June 16, St. Ann Medical and Dental Services clinic will move from an “open clinic” concept to a traditional appointment-based center.

The clinic will be open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Currently the clinic is open on Tuesdays and Wednesday. People requiring services often wait for hours to receive services.

“Our patients are thrilled about the change, because it means a more efficient process and better use of their time,” said CEO Charlie Welker.

“The previous model required them to be here a long time. It was also limited access. Now we will have scheduled appointments five days a week,” Welker said.

The transition is a result of the clinic becoming a federally qualified health center. The clinic in November was awarded a two-year federal grant. The clinic will receive $778,750 this year and $650,000 in the second year of the grant, Welker said.

The larger portion in the first year is to purchase equipment. One such item is a electric generator to provide the clinic with backup power. It was installed two weeks ago, Welker said.

Dr. Greg Brock has been hired as the chief medical officer for the clinic, which will also have two nurse practitioners. The clinic has hired 17 workers and will have a paid staff of 20, Welker said. The clinic next week will begin an interview process to hire a part-time dentist and will hire other clerical workers.

The clinic, which has an annual budget of about $2.5 million, will continue to rely on other funding sources and donations, as well as volunteer physicians and nurses and other helpers. The clinic had more than 200 volunteers in some capacity last year, Welker said.

The clinic in July 2011 became a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, changing its name to Wabash Valley Health Center Inc., doing business as St. Ann Medical & Dental Services. The organization is a ministry of the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods.

The clinic previously served only uninsured people aged 18 to 64 years. Effective June 16, the clinic will provide services to all people. If people are uninsured, the clinic will provide services on a sliding-fee scale. Patients will not be turned away for inability to pay, Welker said.

“Our federal grant mandates that we cannot turn people away for an inability to pay. That also supports our mission, as we are here to serve the underserved,” Welker said.

People who do not have medical or dental coverage, but reside in Harrison Township, will be required to register for assistance through the Harrison Township Trustee, Welker said. The township provides up to $120,000 a year in subsidy to the clinic for health and dental assistance, he said.

Welker said the clinic after two years will apply for another grant as a federally qualified health center.

“It is a challenge, but exciting,” Welker said. “We have just been trying to get the word out about the center,” he said, adding 2,400 fliers announcing the transition were distributed to Catholic churches in Terre Haute for use in weekly bulletins.

The clinic, at 1436 Locust St., can be reached at 812-232-7447 or at www.wabashvalleyhealthcenter.org.

Reporter Howard Greninger can be reached at 812-231-4204 or howard.greninger@tribstar.com.

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