Archive for Friday, July 11, 2008

Nonprofit clinic mulls expansion

Leaders with Lawrence Health Care Access are on a quick timeline to find a new home for the free medical clinic for the uninsured.

July 11, 2008


Health Care Access leaders soon may make a decision to leave their longtime home on Moodie Road as they search for more space to house the growing medical clinic for the uninsured.

Nikki King, executive director of the clinic, said Thursday that the nonprofit's board of directors recently decided it was not feasible to expand the current clinic building at 1920 Moodie Road.

King said the board hasn't ruled out the possibility of keeping the existing clinic open, but also opening a second facility to meet a steady growth in patient demand.

But King also said the board is seriously considering an option of closing the current east Lawrence location and reopening in a building that would be twice the size of the current clinic.

"But we'll be very particular about the location," King said. "We know we need to be accessible to the people we serve."

King hopes to have a decision by mid-August in order to apply for a state grant that could provide up to $100,000 for the project.

About a dozen sites are being reviewed by Health Care Access leaders. King said the search is focusing on east Lawrence and central Lawrence locations.

She said a location near Lawrence Memorial Hospital, the Lawrence Douglas-County Health Department and other medical providers near Third and Main streets would be desirable.

The clinic first confirmed in January that it was considering a move. King said patient volume is expected to grow by 18 percent in 2008, with totals topping 1,800 visits per year.

The clinic provides health care to people who are uninsured and who meet federal poverty guidelines.

King hopes a new location would allow the clinic to increase its number of exam rooms from six to 12, and also create space for a wellness education area.

The project could cost up to $300,000 if a new building needs to be constructed. But King hopes costs will be significantly less by using existing space.

Earlier in the year, the clinic sought $50,000 in Community Development Block Grant funding from the city to help pay for the project. An advisory board, though, recommended against the funding because the clinic didn't have a clear-cut plan.

King said the clinic likely would apply again once a site is found.

City Commissioner Sue Hack said she thought that would improve the clinic's chances of receiving the block grant funding.

"When a plan comes to fruition, I hope we'll see movement in that direction," Hack said. "There's an obvious need for their services, and I don't see it declining in the near future."


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