photo by: Mike Yoder
When I was asked eight months ago to step in and manage a fundraising campaign and this building project for Heartland, I was both nervous and excited. Although I have only been working for Heartland since August 2020, the importance of this project has not escaped me. This facility has been a long time coming and will truly allow Heartland staff to provide quality health care to more people in our community.
Heartland’s origin story began in the late 1990s, when a doctor and a group of local pastors transformed a small Sunday School classroom in a church basement into a examination room for the uninsured in Lawrence. We have come a long way since that time, receiving the designation of a federally accredited health center in 2012. Since then, Heartland has continued to adapt and develop to meet the growing needs of primary health care, dental and behavioral issues in our community. Mergers and acquisitions with Health Care Access, Douglas County Dental Clinic, and more recently Panda Pediatrics have all contributed to the depth of service Heartland can provide to patients.
Heartland’s mission is simple; to accommodate all those who need care. We are committed to ensuring that everyone has the same access to services, regardless of their insurance status or ability to pay. Heartland accepts most commercial insurance, Medicaid and Medicare, and offers a sliding income-based fee scale, which helps ensure everyone has access to the same high-quality health care. We are truly a health center for the whole community. Over and over again, I have heard people say that they think Heartland is for people without insurance or who meet certain income standards. This is not the case. When individuals who have commercial insurance choose to become patients at the health center, it allows Heartland to serve more people without insurance. It is health care that gives back and is an act of service to your neighbors.
Our new facility includes 36 primary care examination rooms, 14 dental treatment rooms, six behavioral health rooms, a lab and a fully stocked pantry called the Care Cupboard, which is a collaboration between Heartland, Just Food and Harvesters. We will also be opening our new pharmacy, which will offer the convenience of a drive-through counter, in early 2022.
Community health centers are designed to address the fragmentation that exists in health care by offering a wide range of primary and preventive care services, including screening, diagnosis and management of chronic diseases such as diabetes, asthma, heart and lung disease, depression, cancer and HIV / AIDS. The momentum of this move to our new facility will propel Heartland into a new era of healthcare delivery. We will continue to solve problems creatively and always keep patients at the center of our business.
As we prepare to open the doors of this new, state-of-the-art health facility to our community, I can say on behalf of many of us who work at Heartland that we are full of gratitude for the many people. who helped us. come here. There are too many to name them, but they know who they are.
-Julie Branstrom is the Director of Development for the Heartland Community Health Center and previously served as the Executive Director of the Douglas County Dental Clinic for 15 years.