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HealthNet - One of 3 Indiana Recipients of Affordable Care Act Funding

5/5/2012

On May 1, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services announced the funding of more than $728 million to support 398 renovation and construction projects at community health centers across the country. 

HealthNet, one of only three recipients in Indiana to receive the Affordable Care Act funding, was awarded a $155,000 renovation grant that will help provide much-needed services for people in the Fountain Square area. We asked HealthNet Chief Operations Officer Elvin Plank to tell us more about the project.

Q: Why did you apply for the grant? Tell us more about the health center in Fountain square and the need for more services there.

A: We are very fortunate to receive this funding. With the grant, we look forward to renovating a portion of HealthNet Southeast Health & Dental Center, located at 901 Shelby St., to enable the health center to serve more patients.

The health center provides more than 35,000 patient visits each year, and has grown into one of our busiest centers. More than 15,000 people in the Fountain Square area live below 200% of the federal poverty level. The health center is currently at capacity and in need of additional space for exam rooms and provider office space. The grant will help us meet the growing demand for services.

Q: How will the funds be used? What is the time frame?

A: We plan to convert space previously used for medical records storage and office space into three new exam rooms and space for behavioral health services, enabling the center to serve an additional 1,150 patients annually.  We hope to complete the project by the end of the year.

Q: How will behavioral health services be enhanced?

A: Because of space constraints, we currently offer behavioral health services in two different places within the building—on the first and third floors. We hope to combine all these offices into one area for the convenience of our patients, and to enable closer collaboration between our behavioral health team and our primary care teams.

Q: How long has HealthNet had a location in Fountain Square?

A: Since its beginning. HealthNet actually got its start in 1968, when a group of concerned residents from the Fountain Square neighborhood determined that accessible and affordable primary health care was a major community need. There were no doctors in the area. 

As a result, Southeast Health Center opened in a renovated bank building at Virginia and College avenues, near Fountain Square. Curtains separate exam rooms; medicines are stored in the basement bank vault. If able, patients contribute a quarter for their care in a jar on the receptionist’s desk. A couple of years later, the center moved to its current location, a 90-year-old converted church and lodge building purchased for $1.

Southeast Health Center is now a 15,500-square foot facility with 26 exam rooms and 6 dental operatories. The health center is located inside Fountain Square Center, which houses a number of social services including GED, job training, utility assistance and senior citizens programs, and a food pantry. The health center has been at this location since 1972 and leases the space from Southeast Community Services. In 2003, HealthNet partnered with the University of Indianapolis and Southeast Community Services to renovate and expand the jointly used building. Fountain Square Center is a wonderful resource for the community.