CHAMPAIGN — Frances Nelson Health Center is open to new patients for the first time in years.
The federally qualified health center in Champaign hired two new advance practice nurses who are now seeing new patients under the supervision of staff doctors, and Frances Nelson doctors also have some limited availability for new patients, said Nancy Greenwalt, executive director of the health center's parent organization Promise Healthcare.
Greenwalt said she couldn't say exactly how long Frances Nelson has been closed to new patients, but she added, "it's been years."
Adding new patients was a primary goal last fall when the new not-for-profit community group formed Promise Healthcare and negotiated a deal with Frances Nelson's former parent organization, the Community Health Improvement Center of Decatur, to get the Champaign health center back under local control.
Frances Nelson has been working to open up the schedule and get those new patients in, Greenwalt said.
After accepting new patients for the past couple of weeks, the health center was able to add about 40 new patients a week, she said.
Greenwalt projects about 2,000 new patient will be added over the next year.
Not only that, she said, but also patients will be able to make return appointments when they're leaving instead of having to wait, and current patients can also make same-day appointments.
"There's availability now and there's availability later," she said.
New patients should expect to complete paperwork and undergo screening for income eligibility for health center discounts, and then will be make appointments for medical care and mental health counseling, Greenwalt said.
Access to Frances Nelson's dental clinic has continued to be available, but "that's getting a little tighter," she said.
Dental appointments are filling quickly, but an effort is being made to add more dental providers to keep up with the demand, Greenwalt said.
In addition to primary medical and dental care, Frances Nelson offers prenatal care, well-child clinics, counseling, breast and cervical cancer screening, medication assistance, lab services, an eye clinic, dermatology, health education services, deeply discounted prescriptions and on-site Spanish-English interpreters.