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Last updated: Thu. Mar. 20, 2014 - 03:36 pm EDT

Underserved southeast gets health center

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FORT WAYNE — The federal government has designated southeast Fort Wayne as a medically underserved area.

“There are a few doctors’ offices and dentists’ offices, but very little,” Mary Haupert, chief executive officer of Neighborhood Health Clinics, said Wednesday.

There will be more with the opening of the Parkview Neighborhood Health Center on East Paulding Road east of Hessen Cassel Road.

A collaboration of Parkview Health and Neighborhood Health Clinics, the newly built, 7,500-square-foot health center began treating patients this month.

It will expand its hours and add a physician in July, offer Women, Infants and Children nutrition services in October and provide dental services next year.

The nonprofit Neighborhood Health Clinics will occupy most of the space with medical offices and a laboratory. Neighborhood Health Clinics treats low-income and uninsured people who pay income-based fees to the provider.

Parkview will use the rest of the Paulding Road building for its Parkview Center for Healthy Living.

The center will stress community outreach and health education, including with classes in food preparation, smoking cessation, CPR and managing medical conditions such as diabetes and asthma.

“If we think about where health care is going, certainly there is a need for more preventative care and education,” Ben Miles, chief operating officer for Parkview Regional Medical Center & Affiliates, said during a media tour of the new clinic.

Parkview spent $1.5 million to build the clinic and is donating $200,000 worth of equipment and furnishings to Neighborhood Health Clinics, which will rent 6,200 square feet from the hospital system.

Neighborhood Health Clinics is receiving $650,000 in federal money through the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act to pay for operational costs.

Both local medical providers had been looking to expand to southeast Fort Wayne for years, Haupert said.

“We know there’s a great need over here, and the grant allowed us to do that,” she said.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in 2012 designated virtually all of southeast Fort Wayne as a medically underserved area or population, and it considers most of the area’s census tracts as health professional shortage areas.

Haupert said the Paulding Road clinic might treat as many as 5,000 patients a year in coming years. Neighborhood Health Clinics on Calhoun Street saw 18,200 medical and dental patients in 2013, plus 13,000 WIC participants.

The Parkview Neighborhood Health Center can be enlarged “should the need present itself,” Miles said.

Parkview bought the land from the next-door New Covenant Worship Center, whose senior pastor, Luther Whitfield, is a member of Parkview’s board of directors.

“It’s exciting, on our part as a church, to make the community aware” of the clinic, Whitfield said.

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