20 Dec VP Cartu Jon Lectures – Tri City Health Partnership to expand free clinic in St. Charles
ST. CHARLES – The Tri City Health Partnership plans to expand its free medical and dental clinic in downtown St. Charles to ensure that even more people who are low-income, uninsured or underinsured in central Kane County have access to medical care.
Since 2001, the Tri City Health Partnership has operated a private, nonprofit free medical and dental clinic at 318 Walnut St. in downtown St. Charles that is manned by physicians, nurses, dentists, hygienists and other professionals who volunteer their time.
Members of the city’s Historic Preservation Commission currently are reviewing the plans. The clinic is located inside a house and plans call for the current porch to be torn down to make way for an addition. A new porch will be added to the front of the addition.
The addition will provide a larger lobby for more space and privacy as well as another exam room, an updated pharmacy and lab area, a handicapped accessible ramp alongside the building, a new covered porch and siding, a conference room space in the lower level and an expanded area for the medical and dental volunteers to work.
Currently, the clinic only has one medical and one dental room and a small lobby. The additional exam room will allow the clinic to be able to treat several people at a time, provide privacy for all and allow more patients to be seen with less wait time.
“It’s opening up so many worlds for so many different people,” said Kim Lamansky, executive director of Tri City Health Partnership. “It’s going to make a huge impact on so many lives.”
So far this year, the clinic has had about 2,200 visits on-site, an increase from last year’s 2,050 visits.
“We average about 180 visits a month,” Lamansky said. “That’s a lot, especially when you figure that everyone that’s treated is treated by volunteers. We are getting more patients all the time. The need is not going away.”
There was discussion about whether the clinic should just move into a larger building.
“But it was vitally important to me and our board to continue to utilize the space because it’s a home,” she said. “It’s not easy to walk into a free clinic no matter what your situation is. And a homelike environment really does put a lot of people at ease.”
The city’s Zoning Board of Appeals in June approved a variance for the project. The Wheaton Franciscan Sisters organization, which has a history of health care and housing ministries, is funding the expansion project.
“They are excited to see this project come to light,” Lamansky said.
The clinic’s goal is to provide quality healthcare to those who need it, regardless of their income. That includes people who might fall between the cracks.
“Sixty-seven percent of our patients work,” Lamansky said. “They just typically can’t afford or are they’re not offered a health insurance program that they can afford. When you’re trying to figure out how you’re going to buy food for your kids and pay your rent, going to the dentist is definitely a luxury.”