-- — During a recent Indiana Association of Local Boards of Health teleconference, "the national movement for public health departments to collaborate with primary care or community health centers on free clinics to care for those who can't afford it" was discussed, Ripley County Health Department President Harley Robinson, D.V.M., told other members Oct. 2.
Ripley County will follow that trend. Board member Dr. Michael Parker presented an update on the proposed Southeast Indiana Health Center for the uninsured living in Ripley and Franklin counties. The board of directors (Parker, RCHD board member Dr. Steve Stein, President Gerilyn Litzinger, Roger Dean, Connie DeBurger, Dr. Steve Glaser, Pete Mack, Linda Tuttle and Bev Metze) is now soliciting money and hunting for a location in the Batesville area because it is centrally located.
The goal is to accrue $350,000 in an operating fund and $300,000 in a building fund, he said.
Volunteers with perhaps a paid part-time clinic director will address preventive care, women's health, minor emergencies, sexually transmitted diseases and make referrals to specialists. Margaret Mary Community Hospital will provide a certain amount of charitable radiological and laboratory services.
"We're going to start out slow and try to grow it,” Parker reported. A three-year plan estimated 3,000 visits in the first year, with the clinic open maybe five hours each week. "In the second year, we'd like to add dental. We've identified that has a huge need in the area.” By the third year, there could be 38,000 visits with the facility open 25 hours weekly.
Stein called the clinic "a great idea ... It was a surprise ... (to learn) the uninsured have nowhere to go.”
According to Parker, the center will need "all kinds" of volunteers, from physicians and nurses to clerks and drivers. Medical providers who would like to help may call Glaser at 934-5011. Other volunteers should contact Litzinger at 933-5145.