Donation gets health center closer to project goal

Submitted photoDonation: Vectren Foundation presents $25,000 to Wabash Valley Health Center for the planned expansion of the community health and dental clinics. Celebrating the expansion are (from left) Jennifer Isbell-Scott and Tom Moore of Vectren; Mike Eldred, Charlie Welker, Tina Elliott and Mike Smith of WVHC; Amanda Schmitt and Andy Theisz of Vectren; and Brooke Lockhart of WVHC.

A donation of $25,000 from Vectren Foundation brings Wabash Valley Health Center closer to its October groundbreaking for a major renovation and expansion project.

Vectren’s support and generosity is remarkable,” said Charlie Welker, CEO of the health center at 1436 Locust St. in Terre Haute. “We can’t do this project without community support, so this is another piece in getting us to the point of groundbreaking.”

After months of planning, obtaining required permits and design work, the WVHC board last week unveiled its public capital campaign on its website and Facebook page. It’s a $3.4 million project with a construction timeline of about 14 months. The project completion is expected in 2021.

The project involves a 3,200-square-foot expansion along with major interior and exterior facility and campus enhancements.

“Our growth has been dramatic,” Welker said of the clinic, “and we are nearly at our functional physical limit within in the building, which is why the expansion is so critical. For us it’s broad-reaching, it’s more than just an improved physical structure.”

Highlights of the project include:

• Moving the main entrance to the north side with patient parking located just north of the new entrance.

• Increased parking and overall safety.

• Improved ease of access from the parking lot to the main entrance, as well as access into and out of the building.

• Expanded waiting room capacity.

• Improved patient privacy throughout the clinic.

• An additional 10 medical exam rooms added tot he 10 existing exam rooms.

• More work stations for clinic staff.

• Addition of a denture lab.

• Installation of a fire sprinkler system throughout the entire building.

• External signage to improve visibility and ease of finding the health center.

“This project sustains our commitment to the current location in the heart of the Ryves neighborhood,” Welker said.

While the WVHC did briefly consider adding another site to expand services, the board wanted its investment to remain at the Locust Street location.

“We know it’s a very under-served area. Health centers are to be located in area of greatest need,” Welker said. “Our needs assessment and strategy work tells us there is still great unmet need in this area.”

The health center was originally founded in the late 1990s as a medical and dental clinic operated as a mission of the Sisters of Providence in the former St. Ann’s catholic school. It transitioned to a federally qualified health center in 2014.

The health center serves 1,300 to 1,400 clients each month, Welker said.

In addition to medical and dental care, the center offers behavioral health services and insurance outreach and enrollment.

Jennifer Isbell-Scott of Vectren Energy said Vectren is grateful for the health center’s investment in the community.

“Wabash Valley Health Center has been a great community partner to Vectren with our neighborhood revitalization efforts and we are proud to provide both financial and relational support for their renovation and expansion project,” she said. “This major investment being made by the health center ties directly to our neighborhood revitalization efforts which focuses on improving the quality of life and redevelopment of the Ryves neighborhood. We look forward to continuing our partnership with the Wabash Valley Health Center.”

Welker said the health center board appreciates Vectren’s ongoing championing of this neighborhood revitalization effort.

“Vectren financially supported our dental expansion project in 2017,” he said, “and now they are helping us with this major commitment and investment in this project and in this neighborhood. We are just incredibly grateful.”

For more information on the health center, go online to www.WabashValleyHealthCenter.org or call 812-232-7447 to schedule an appointment.

Lisa Trigg can be reached at 812-231-4254 or at lisa.trigg@tribstar.com. Follow her on Twitter at TribStarLisa.

Lisa Trigg has been a reporter at the Tribune-Star since 2009. With more than 30 years of newspaper experience, she now covers general news with a focus on crime and courts.

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