Archive for Wednesday, June 25, 2003

Last-ditch fund raising aimed to keep open Overbrook medical clinic

June 25, 2003


— The clock is ticking on this town's effort to save its only medical clinic.

Residents of Overbrook and those who live nearby have 15 days to raise $50,000 to subsidize the clinic and keep it open for six more months. So far, $18,000 has been raised.

"It's do-able," said Beth Pankratz, who last month helped launch a last-ditch effort to keep the Kansas Medical Clinic in Overbrook open.

It also was last month that officials announced they were closing the financially-strapped clinic July 31.

The Overbrook clinic has been losing money since it opened three years ago, said Michelle Mieir, an administrator with Kansas Medical Clinic in Topeka. Nevertheless, Overbrook's attempt to come up with a subsidy plan to attract more patients has impressed her.

"I've said don't underestimate Overbrook," Mieir said.

Kansas Medical Clinic is the third firm to try to operate a clinic in Overbrook since Dr. James Ruble retired in the early 1990s. Ruble and several other local businessmen and community leaders are on a recently formed committee to spearhead fund-raising efforts.

"It's going to be tough, but we're going to give it our best shot," said committee member Randy Durbin, president of First Security Bank in Overbrook.

Under a plan developed with and agreed to by Kansas Medical Clinic, $50,000 will be raised to make up any financial losses the clinic sustains in the next six months. Any additional funds raised will be used to aggressively promote the clinic to draw new patients.

Monthly deficits have ranged from $5,000 to $8,000, clinic officials said. The facility has averaged 12 patients a day but needs to average at least 18 patients to break even, they said.

"The number of patients is going to be the key," Mieir said.

If the $50,000 is raised, Kansas Medical Clinic has agreed to keep the Overbrook facility open until Jan. 31, 2004. Committee members hope that by then promotions will have increased the number of patients at the clinic enough for it to break even, Pankratz and Durbin said.

A public meeting to discuss the plan will be at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the Overbrook Attendance Center.

There are about 1,000 residents living in Overbrook but the clinic could draw patients from outlying areas in Osage and Douglas counties, Pankratz said. Donations will be sought from people in those areas as well.

"We think some people have been holding back until we had an agreement," Pankratz said. "We're hoping they will come forward now."

Overbrook has the only Kansas Medical Clinic location outside of Topeka, where the firm has six clinics.

It is difficult for small clinics to make money in rural areas, Mieir said, and closing the Overbrook facility is not something she wants to do.

"It's tough and emotionally draining to do this," she said. "My staff is really attracted to these people. They get tears in their eyes when they talk about Overbrook."

Walk-in donations for the clinic can be made at First Security Bank and Kansas State Bank in Overbrook. Checks can also be made out to "Save OMC" (Overbrook medical clinic) and mailed to Save Our Clinic, Box 1, Overbrook 66524.

Staff writer Mike Belt can be reached at 832-7165.

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