The Chippewa Valley Free Clinic has a home it can call its own after moving three times as renters over the last six years, officials at the clinic announced Monday.
The clinic that provides free medical services to those who can’t otherwise afford the care bought the building at 1030 Oak Ridge Drive and hopes to start operations there in mid- to late-November. The site used to be a dental clinic and has other medical organizations such as Marshfield Clinic and HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital as neighbors.
Executive director Maribeth Woodford walked through the free clinic’s soon-to-be home on Monday afternoon, pointing out framework renovations that will tailor the building to their long-term needs.
“Because of different building needs our landlords had, we were moving every couple years. We will no longer be doing that,” Woodford said when asked about the most anticipated part of the upcoming move. “We will have permanency. Our patients will know this is their medical home.”
The free clinic most recently operated out of the former Syverson Lutheran Home in downtown Eau Claire, which announced its closure in March due to inadequate Medicaid reimbursements. Pablo Properties, Commonweal Development Corporation and Market Family Investments bought the former nursing home and have plans to transform it into a high-end apartment complex.
While caught off guard by Syverson Lutheran Home’s closure, Woodford and Dr. Steve Weiss — a physician at Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire and CVFC board president — said their new home will allow them to better serve patients. The clinic hosted 1,900 patient visits last year and has served 9,000 unique patients since opening in 1997.
The 5,500-square-foot space allows for six exam rooms — compared with the clinic’s previous five — and three dental chairs instead of two. Work flow will improve as the space is more of a traditional clinic as opposed to a building originally intended for nursing home care. Renovations will provide designated areas for mental health care and triage, where patients will meet with nurses to determine the care they need.
“Some of my most satisfying patient care experiences have been taking care of patients here,” Weiss said. “Patients are very grateful. Oftentimes they have very serious problems, the needs for which are not met anywhere else.”
The clinic’s new location will cost just more than $1 million including the cost of the building and renovations, Weiss said. So far $577,000, which includes a $250,000 donation from Pablo Properties, has been raised. Other purchasers of Syverson Lutheran Home helped the clinic find its new home. A capital campaign was launched on Nov. 2 to raise the rest of the needed funds.
Those interested in donating to the clinic can do so by contacting the organization via their website, cvfreeclinic.org, calling them at 715-839-8477 or stopping by the clinic. It will operate at 816 Porter Ave. through mid-November.
“Our goal is to be seamlessly transferring our services here,” Woodford said. “We may have a slight gap of about a week for some services, but our medication refill services will continue because of the daily meds needed. We have a plan in place for that.”
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