From bingo to kiddos: Longtime Eagles Lodge building to become pediatric center
photo by: Chad Lawhorn/Journal-World photo
I always assumed that if a medical office were ever to locate in the old Eagles Lodge building, it would be a heart specialist. That building’s bingo games were notorious for breaking hearts. (If you are scoring at home, I still have yet to ever win a bingo game in my life.) But instead, I have news about the building being converted into a major pediatric center.
Panda Pediatrics has signed a deal to take over the former Eagles Lodge building at 1803 W. Sixth St., which will allow it to move its two medical offices into the large building. If you are having a hard time picturing where the Eagles Lodge building is located, then you are even worse at bingo than I am. The building is behind the Dollar General store that is just south and east of the intersection of Sixth and Iowa streets.
Panda currently has two locations in Lawrence — its longtime home at 346 Maine St. near the hospital and a newer west Lawrence location at 4824 Quail Crest Place. Lucas Houk, practice administrator for Panda, said those two offices eventually will close and all operations will be consolidated into the new Sixth Street location.
The new building will give the practice about 10,000 square feet of additional space, and Houk said Panda plans to fill it with new doctors, and also more space dedicated to walk-in clinic space for children with bumps, bruises or other ailments that don’t do a good job of waiting for a standard appointment.
“We really have been throttled by our space situation,” Houk said.
He said plans call for providing two to three additional doctors or mid-level practitioners at the new space. The practice currently has seven providers, including four doctors and three mid-level practitioners, such as physician assistants and nurse practitioners.
Houk also said the space is going to get a complete makeover, both outside and inside. (Personally, I would be tempted to leave the pool table and the deep fat fryer, but what do I know? I can’t even win at bingo.) Houk said construction crews already have gutted the interior of the approximately 25,000-square-foot building. An entirely new facade will be added to the exterior.
“It will appeal to young parents,” Houk said. “It will have its own parking lot, which is really important for us. Getting moms in and out in a clean new space is a big draw for us.”
photo by: Photo courtesy: Paul Werner Architects/Panda Pediatrics
So, too, is the location, although Houk said members of the practice spent more than a year deliberating on where Panda’s future home should be located. Houk said there clearly is a trend for medical services to move to west Lawrence, noting the $100 million outpatient medical center LMH is building near Rock Chalk Park.
But Houk said about 30 percent of Panda’s patients are on Medicaid, and the doctors — including former city commissioner Terry Riordan — really wanted to have a location that was easily served by the city’s bus system.
“We wanted to remain accessible to all of Lawrence,” Houk said. “We wanted to be centrally located. That was a big part of of the discussion about whether to follow the western trend.”
As for a timeline for the new center to open, Houk said he hopes the practice will move into the space by late summer.
For those of you wondering what has become of the Lawrence chapter of the Eagles, which is a longtime fraternal organization, it is still active, according to its social media sites. It is meeting at Conroy’s Pub on West Sixth Street, but a Facebook post indicated that the Eagles do expect to have their own lodge building again. I’ve got a call into the group to try to get some additional information. I’ll let you know if I hear more.