HEALY Health Care Access - the largest clinic serving uninsured Douglas County residents - is starting a serious push to expand or relocate its operations after serving a record number of patients in 2007.
And demand in 2008 may soar even higher.
"We usually boom when the recession hits," said Nikki King, executive director of Health Care Access.
That's why the nonprofit organization has formed a committee to study expanding its clinic at 1920 Moodie Road, or relocating to another Lawrence location. The goal, King said, is to expand the clinic from four exam rooms to six, which could allow the clinic to add about 1,000 appointments per year.
The group is looking for city help. Health Care Access recently filed paperwork with the city seeking a $50,000 Community Development Block Grant. King said an expansion or relocation could cost $500,000.
"There is no doubt that they need additional space," Mayor Sue Hack said.
But Hack stopped short of endorsing the $50,000 request. The city is scheduled to provide about $25,000 in operational funding to Health Care Access in 2008. Hack said she wanted to consider the $50,000 application, but said it needed to go through the CDBG review process. The city's Neighborhood Resources Advisory Board is scheduled to review CDBG applications in February and March, and then forward funding recommendations to the City Commission.
King said the clinic saw 1,621 patients in 2007, who accounted for 3,757 appointments. The patient numbers represent an increase of about 20 percent from 2006, King said.
King said her staff has converted an administrative office to an exam room, and could do that with two other office spaces. But King said her board of directors decided to take a hard look at whether the building will meet the clinic's long-term needs.
"Right now, all options will be on the table," King said.
If the facility does move, she added, it would need to be in a location easily accessible to its low-income clients, which means any location would need to be on the city's public transit routes.
King confirmed there is interest in looking at property near Lawrence Memorial Hospital, which also is near the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department and the Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center. She said the board would be interested in the former ambulance station on the LMH campus.
State statistics estimate that about 12,000 Douglas County residents are uninsured. King estimates that Health Care Access reaches about 14 percent of that target market.