New health clinic coming

Published 5:00 am Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The addition of a new health care clinic to Brookhaven could bethe first local sign of benefits derived from the federal stimuluspackage.

Pearl-based Family Health Care Clinic is set to receiveapproximately $1.3 million in stimulus funds, which theorganization plans to use to open one new clinic in Brookhaven andtwo others in Southwest Mississippi. The clinics will offer medicaldental health care and health information services to low-incomeand uninsured patients, said Chief Executive Officer Dr. MargaretGray, who expects to have the Brookhaven clinic operating within 90to 120 days.

“The objective is to get it done as quickly as possible,” shesaid. “The purpose of it is an opportunity to put some resources inthe community and provide health care to people who can’t affordit, and provide some jobs as quickly as possible. We focus heavilyon prevention – making sure people with diabetes and hypertensionare taking care of themselves. We’ll offer immunizations forchildren as well.”

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Gray said the Brookhaven facility would provide eight jobs,while all three new clinics will employ 70 people total. She saidthe project was selected for stimulus funding because of itsavailability – the expansion was planned 14 months ago – andbecause of its total economic impact in conjunction with othermedical businesses.

“It’s not just the jobs at the clinic,” Gray said. “We’dprobably have to lease a building from someone and purchasesupplies and laboratory equipment.”

Gray said the initial $1.3 million is not sufficient to buildthree new clinics.

In order to get the clinics up and running as quickly aspossible, Family Health Care Clinic will lease office space. Thecompany’s first choice in Brookhaven has been occupied, she said,and officials are now searching the city for their secondchoice.

“We look at a building that can quickly be converted into amedical clinic,” Gray said. “We look at buildings that may havesome rooms that are close to the size of examination rooms, whereall we have to do it put sinks in the rooms and build a lab. Welook at the easiest way it’s done.”

In the 10 counties where the clinics operate, Gray said formermedical facilities were used in Grenada, Calhoun City and Winona,allowing a quick and easy clean-up and establishment of the clinic.The company might also purchase a modular building, she said. Thesearch for a permanent office could begin after the clinic isestablished, she said.

“The key is to get the services there as quickly as possible,”she said.

Gray said Lincoln County was chosen for a new clinic because ofits location in the state and the fact it did not already have acommunity health center. She said most of Mississippi’s 82 countieshave such a center.

Lincoln, Franklin and Wilkinson counties were chosen to fill aSouthwest Mississippi need. The Franklin clinic will be inMeadville while Woodville will be home to the one in WilkinsonCounty.

Lincoln County Supervisors President the Rev. Jerry Wilsonpointed out that the clinic would not only help low-incomefamilies, but in current economic conditions, no-incomefamilies.

“There are people who are laid off that need help, too,” hesaid. “Right now, people are in a stage of life where there’s beena lot of misfortune. Everybody needs help with whatever they canget. (The clinic) is a blessing by itself.”