ELKHART — Heart City Health Center here has received a $900,000 federal grant, allowing the health facility to open a new clinic and expand the number of people it serves.
“This is a win for the people of Elkhart,” Vernita Todd, chief executive officer at Heart City, said Thursday, Nov. 7.
The new clinic, to open perhaps by next March, will be able to handle 3,000 new visits per year, increasing the total Heart City is able to handle to 14,000. Heart City, a non-profit health care provider geared to the uninsured and low-income people, currently operates out of a facility at 236 Simpson Ave.
Funding for the expansion comes from the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, and $4.49 million in all is earmarked for six Indiana clinics thanks to the initiative, according to an announcement Thursday from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The funds are meant to create new health service “delivery sites” — like the new Heart City clinic — and will help an estimated 42,086 Hoosiers in all.
“Indiana health centers are key partners in the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, and new health center sites will increase access to those who need it most,” HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a statement.
The five other Indiana health centers getting funds are in Indianapolis, Muncie, Fort Wayne, Merrillville and Terre Haute. In all, 236 health center programs all across the country will share $150 million in funds thanks to the initiative, enabling them to serve 1.25 million more people.
‘OVER THE MOON’
Todd said Heart City officials have talked about opening the clinic at Woodland Crossing, the shopping complex on the northwest corner of Prairie and Hively avenues in Elkhart. Officials have also talked about sharing space with other non-profit groups, and a final decision on location has yet to be made.
Either way, the plan is to open the new clinic within about four months, by early March, and have it fully operational within two years. The federal funds — granted after Heart City’s third application for money — won’t cover all expansion costs, but Todd said the clinic has the resources to run a new location.
The new facility will require about 25 new staffers, including at least three doctors.
The expansion is key in the context of the Affordable Care Act, Todd said, because it provides a new location where people can get care. It’s one thing to obtain coverage, but the new pool of people expected to get on health plans due to the health care overhaul will also need doctors and clinics where they can actually get care, Todd said. Such offerings, health industry experts say, are currently in short supply.
“We’re getting excited over here,” said Todd. Officials at the non-profit clinic are “over the moon.”