POSTED ON NOVEMBER 23, 2011:
Community Health Connection construction completed in Kendall-Whittier neighborhood
After some federal stimulus grant glitches, a $4.6 million construction project to build a new, state-of-the-art medical facility for Community Health Connection is finally completed.
Now, the brand-new, red-brick, bilingual, federally qualified health facility stands at the corner of E. Third St. and Lewis Ave.
The center, also called La Coniexión Médica, has been located in a crowded east Tulsa strip mall, and will continue to serve residents in that area. The new facility will be operational once they finish up some last-minute insurance-related paperwork is wrapped up, according to Lori Adams, Community Health Connection's operations and compliance manager.
On Nov. 18, an open house was held for the public to learn more about the new services that will be offered soon in the 16,000-square-foot health center in Kendall-Whittier neighborhood.
Last year, Community Health Connection faced a $3.4 million shortfall after being denied the stimulus money. The denial came as a slap in the face after the service became a federally qualified health center in 2005 with the stipulation that it serve the Kendall-Whittier area.
But finding a suitable spot in Kendall-Whittier, a historic Tulsa district undergoing revitalization along with the rest of Midtown, proved difficult.
The federal government allowed Community Health Connection to open in East Tulsa at 9912 E. 21st St. while the medical group found or built a suitable facility in the Kendall-Whittier area.
When Community Health Connection's board found out they may face a $3.4 million shortfall last February, the sidewalks, curbs and foundation were already in place at the new site.
Failing to fund new medical facilities to serve Green Country's less fortunate people could strain our health-care infrastructure by holding off on pricey preventive care and clogging emergency rooms.
But the grant money, designed to boost federally qualified health centers with money appropriated through the Affordable Care Act, eventually came through in October 2010.
By April of this year, the final beam was positioned atop the structure. On Nov. 18, a public open house was held to celebrate the completion of the new Community Health Connection in Kendall-Whittier.
Little kids rode ponies, jumped around in a bounce house and had their faces painted in the facility's parking lot while others toured the building and talked to nurses and staff about medical services that will be offered by January.
Twelve new examination rooms with cheerful colors and a full-service dental office will soon be filled with thousands of Tulsa-area patients that count on these low- or no- cost medical services. The clinic has separate areas for mental health care, a social worker and laboratory space for medical testing.
The Kendall-Whittier area was identified as a place with a large percentage of minority and low-income residents. Since the health center has so many current patients at its East Tulsa facility, it will continue to serve the more than 5,500 patients Community Health Connection providers treated in 2010.
Clinic staffers are not allowed to ask about the immigration status of patients. The center accepts some private pay plans plus Medicare and Medicaid. As a federally qualified health center, Community Health Connection offers a sliding scale based on income and insurance.
The center will be propped up by a number of mostly federal-related grants and even malpractice insurance. Community Health Connection is one of only 18 federally boosted health centers in the state, while 300 such centers operate in Texas.
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