Helping to bring quality health care to Ohio’s rural residents requires more than a passing interest; it demands a commitment that enables an organization to navigate the challenges that come with such a vision. Ohio Rural Development State Director Tony Logan joined the leadership of Health Partners of Western Ohio (HPWO) at a recent ribbon cutting ceremony to officially open their larger, newly renovated health clinic.
HPWO, Inc., a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) located in Lima, Ohio, is focusing its energies, along with more than $1.3 million in Rural Development Community Facilities (CF) Program funding, to provide health care access to thousands of needy rural Ohioans in its multi-county service area.
Expanding health care to financially struggling Ohioans and creating a one-stop community health center has been a long-term goal of HPWO’s Board of Directors. HPWO purchased a larger building in 2009 and sought Rural Development financing to fund renovations and equipment upgrades.
Moving from an existing facility of just barely 1,800 square feet, where more than 5,000 patients were served in 2009 with no running water, HPWO will now provide medical care from its new facility with more than triple the operating space of more than 7,800 square feet. This is a significant increase from three poorly functioning medical exam rooms, to eight equipped medical exam rooms, one counseling office, a health education room, several offices for enabling services, and a full on-site pharmacy.
The dental department will move from two small rooms with old equipment to four operatories with new equipment including digital x-rays. The medical and dental equipment and furnishings for the building were funded in part with a Rural Development Community Facility Guarantee Loan and a Community Facility Grant from American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Recovery Act) funding. The new space and equipment enhancements will allow current providers to increase patient capacity while adding health care providers including a physician, a counselor, and a hygienist.
In addition to the medical/dental facility, HPWO has created a space for a bi-lingual library in the waiting area of the facility. The partnership with the New Carlisle Public Library, the “Reach Out and Read Program,” will be administered out of the new facility. Reach Out and Read prepares America’s youngest children to succeed in school by partnering with doctors to prescribe books and encourage families to read together. CF Direct Recovery Act funds were used to fund the bi-lingual/reach out and read library project.