MANKATO – Open Door Health Center will use US bailout funding for upgrades to free up more clinical space.
Community health center leaders recently announced the plans after receiving federal funding of $ 520,260. Open Door was one of 14 health centers in Minnesota to receive an estimated $ 8.6 million in total as part of President Joe Biden’s bailout.
Open Door’s upgrade plans call for a new community education room downstairs, as well as a new entrance on the north side of the building.
“Internal expansion” will help the clinic, which has a narrow footprint at 309 Holly Lane in Mankato, to meet the needs of the community, said Mandy Gault, public information manager for Open Door.
“This will allow us to move some things downstairs and free up clinical space,” she said. “We are expanding and adding suppliers. “
The community hall will occupy approximately half of the unfinished basement space of Open Door. Once completed, it could be used for health education and other outreach programs for underserved populations.
The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a drop in the number of patients seeking preventive care and screening at clinics. The numbers are not quickly rising to pre-pandemic levels, leading healthcare providers to look for ways to reach patients again.
“There has been a reluctance on the part of people to return to their health center,” Gault said. “We have to understand this.”
Using the community room as a space to get people educated on topics like chronic disease management might make them more comfortable returning for clinical care. A separate entrance leading to the community hall, rather than the reception and waiting room, is part of this plan.
Freeing up more space upstairs for clinical uses while adding space downstairs for education and other uses will also give Open Door more flexibility to deal with future health crises. During the COVID-19 pandemic, for example, the health center had to move resources to find space for vaccinations and tests.
Open Door and similar community health centers, which often serve as safety net health care providers for uninsured or underinsured patients, administered millions of COVID-19 vaccines during the pandemic. They more traditionally provide services ranging from behavioral health care to legal aid referrals to help with insurance enrollment.
In a statement, Open Door CEO Rhonda Eastlund said the health center was grateful for the funding, which “will help us improve the qualification of our clinic.” She noted that the funding will also help many other health centers.
Community health centers have not received significant infrastructure investments for more than a decade, Mike Holmes, chairman of the board of directors of the National Association of Community Health Centers, said in the statement. At the time, health centers were serving around 18 million patients across the country.
“Today we (US health centers) have almost doubled our patient base and are fighting to end the pandemic,” he said.
Open Door will work with Brunton Architects on the renovations, the same local company that designed the Holly Lane building.