Primary care clinic is set to open at Presence Covenant Medical Center
URBANA — Promise Healthcare, the parent organization of Frances Nelson Health Center, will expand to Urbana this summer with plans to open a small primary care clinic at Presence Covenant Medical Center.
It will operate as a full-time satellite site of Frances Nelson, open 40 hours a week, and will be staffed with one provider, most likely an advanced practice nurse, according to Promise Healthcare's Executive Director Nancy Greenwalt.
The clinic will be located in the hospital's community resource center in space being donated by the hospital. Funding to help cover the cost of the Frances Nelson provider is coming from the Presence Covenant Foundation's FAITH2 grant program.
Dr. Jared Rogers, Covenant's interim president and CEO, said the resource center was opened to help meet a broader health care need in the community, going beyond medical needs. It has been providing help and referrals for people coming to the hospital emergency department who don't actually have medical emergencies, but don't know where else to go.
"What we identified was that there were a number of people who tended to seek care in places that weren't best for them, meaning that they weren't able to get the care they needed," he said.
During the first quarter of this year, the resource center made contact with more than 630 people, and made more than twice that many referrals to more than 65 agencies in Champaign County, according to Covenant.
The new Frances Nelson satellite clinic will join several agencies already collaborating with the hospital's resource center, among them Catholic Charities, the Champaign County Christian Health Center, Community Elements, Champaign County Health Care Consumers and CRIS Healthy Aging Center, Covenant officials say.
Greenwalt said the new clinic could be a more appropriate place to refer patients coming to the emergency room when they need primary care than the main Frances Nelson site in Champaign.
"I know Presence would like to get some people who show up at the emergency department to find a medical home," she said.
This clinic will also be open to others looking for primary care, Greenwalt said — though, she adds, it's not going to function as a convenient care center.
As a "medical home" it's intended to be provider of ongoing medical care for its own base of established patients.
"I'm sort of hoping it becomes a neighborhood clinic as well," Greenwalt said.
The new clinic at Covenant won't open until the summer because this will be a satellite site of a federally qualified health center, and opening a new site involves applying for a change in scope along the lines of making a change in the federal grant application, Greenwalt said.
Frances Nelson Health Center has continued expanding its patient base in Champaign at the rate of 40 to 50 new patients a week, and still has additional capacity, Greenwalt says.
"If someone wants to be a patient of Frances Nelson and they are up to filling out the paperwork, we can see them today," she said.
Patients don't need to be poor to go there for care, though they do need to be income-eligible to receive discounts on their care, she said.