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Community Health Center to begin expansion next month - KOAM TV 7

Community Health Center to begin expansion next month

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The Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas will almost double its size as a multi-million dollar construction project is set to begin next month.

The project is being made possible with federal grant money plus a forgivable loan program through the City of Pittsburg.

For thousands of Southeast Kansas patients the 25,000 square foot expansion will mean shorter wait times and more services being provided under one roof.

For the past six years, the Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas has seen an increase of patients through its seven sites.  In fact, they see an almost 300% increase in patients each year.

The increase has caused the five year old building in Pittsburg to become to small for the demand.

"We've added sites - we've got them in four counties - Coffeyville, Iola, Baxter, Columbus," says CEO Krista Postai.  "As we added these sites, we thought that this would take the stress off this location.  It really hasn't.  It just attracted new people from those regions."

Postai says the clinic is a one stop-shop ranging from psychological to medical to dental.

"We have a tremendous walk-in traffic from just vaccines alone," says Postai.  "We do about 13,000 alone.  That brings a lot of folks in."

Patient Gabrielle Murnan says she is excited to see that the project is going to begin soon.

"It's a great contribution to the community," says Murnan.  "Now they can serve so many more patients and so many more people can have access and that's the whole point of community health center is for everyone to have access to healthcare."

The need for construction became even more concrete when some staff members had to repurpose closets or a bathroom into offices.

"It'll mean less wait time, more availability of doctors, they'll be able to bring more doctors," says Murnan.  "And as far as the community, that many more people will be able to come here to realize the different programs and services community health provides."

Postai says patient intake is expected to increase even more after the Supreme Court last week upheld the Affordable Healthcare Act.

"We are so pleased to hear that most of those people will now have some kind of health insurance coverage, which makes it easier for us to refer out to specialty services, because those things, we don't offer," says Postai.  "That's always been a challenge.  So that was great news for us.  It also tells us though, that we know there's another 30% of the population out there that aren't seeing a doctor because they can't afford it."

The Health Center received a $4.7 million federal grant and a $460,000 forgivable loan for the construction and equipment.

Another service community health will offer is a mobile health van for child care at area schools.

The Kid Care Connection will begin this month as children are enrolling into school.

"The greater impact is looking at the health of Crawford County, which is in the bottom of the state," says Postai.  "We have some of the worst health indicators and outcomes in the state of Kansas.  This gives us an opportunity to start addressing the problems, not just the symptoms."

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