Healthy options

Healthy options

CHAMPAIGN — After more than a decade of running his occupational health and sports medicine clinic in Champaign, Dr. David Fletcher is more convinced than ever that patients in the area want more independent medical services like his.

That is, medical services that aren't provided by the Big Two in Champaign-Urbana, the Carle health system and Christie Clinic.

"I want to see some alternative health options for this community," said Fletcher, who is the owner and medical director at SafeWorks Illinois.

He's got plans to help make that happen, starting with the construction this summer of a new building south of the SafeWorks Illinois building at 1806 N. Market St. that will provide more space for independent providers.

He's also got more development in mind for 6.3 acres of ground he owns south and east of SafeWorks. The land is currently being marketed as the 217 Medical Center Campus, and it's intended to bring in still more independents, Fletcher said.

An occupational medicine specialist, Fletcher opened SafeWorks Illinois in 2001.

Among its services are treatments for workplace injuries, work-related physicals, drug-testing and sports medicine. There are also four other providers there, a rehab and performance center, a Pilates and personal training center, a two-physician spine consultant practice and an orthopedic surgery practice.

Fletcher referred to his facility as "the un-Carle" and to himself as a tax-paying medical provider.

"I'm one of the few alternative doctors for this community," he said. "I actually pay property taxes that I'm proud of."

The new building he plans to start construction on in June, and hopefully complete in the fall, will be 2,500 square feet of new space to house health services focusing on personal fitness, anti-aging and primary care, Fletcher said.

Specifically, he hopes to recruit doctors in pediatrics, family medicine and internal medicine "who want to be in this community who don't want to be part of the bureaucracy of a big-box clinic," he said.

Anti-aging health services such as preventive health screenings and health supplement sales will focus on helping prevent chronic diseases and prolonging productivity, Fletcher said.

He benefited from a preventive screening himself. While he didn't have any symptoms, Fletcher said he had a screening of his own carotid arteries just as a precaution and learned he had a 90 percent blockage that required a surgery.

"I'm lucky I didn't have a stroke," he said.

The new building will be a second growth spurt in recent years. SafeWorks Illinois finished a new addition in 2014 that added more space for physical therapy and pain management services, Fletcher said.

The new building won't take up any of the land being marketed as the 217 Medical Center Campus, a project Fletcher said he said he hopes to get a hand with from developers willing to build there.

The problem for primary care doctors who want to come to Champaign-Urbana and operate as independents, Fletcher said, is they don't have much of a choice with facilities.

"That's part of what we're trying to do," Fletcher said. "We feel this is an underserved community. We feel this is what they're missing."

Not only that, he said, he thinks the 217 Medical Center Campus location is a good one, near Interstate 74 and on the north side of the community where employers have asked for more of a medical presence.

Fletcher, who got his undergraduate degree at the University of Illinois, once also had a practice presence in Decatur and Chicago, but these days concentrates exclusively on his Champaign-Urbana-based practice, he said.

He employs 29 people here, and said boosting an independent practice in Champaign-Urbana is worth the challenge it presents.

"I love this community," Fletcher said. "I went to school here, and I've never felt more passionate about trying to raise independent practice in this community."

The 411 on 217 Medical Center Campus

Already there: SafeWorks Illinois, 217 Pilates and Personal Training, Central Illinois Orthopedic Surgery, Spine Consultants and 217 Rehab & Performance Center.

Available for more: 6.3 acres for development listed at $699,000 (or at 3 separate prices subdivided) near Market Place Mall, the Salvation Army Red Shield Center and Interstate 74.

A sideline of owner Dr. David Fletcher: He's also fundraising to launch his dream, the nonprofit Chicago Baseball Museum, and is president of its foundation board. Check out: chicagobaseballmuseum.org.

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