Extend GraceMed’s reach

The community should help GraceMed further extend its reach.
The community should help GraceMed further extend its reach.

GraceMed Health Clinic has stood out in Wichita for its strength and focus amid all the turmoil in the medical care sector in recent years, increasingly looking like not only a safety net but a welcoming health home with multiple school-based satellites.

Now the community should help GraceMed further extend its reach to meet the need, by contributing to the $12.2 million campaign that will allow it to build a new full-service facility in south Wichita to go along with its main site at 1122 N. Topeka. On Tuesday GraceMed had donations and pledges to put it within $2.8 million of that goal. To learn more about how to help, go to GraceMed.org or call 316-866-2000.

The centerpiece of the effort, a partnership with Via Christi Health dubbed Project Oasis, will be a 26,000-square-foot clinic on the campus of the Richard A. DeVore South YMCA at 3405 S. Meridian, effectively creating a wellness complex in a part of town with many uninsured or underinsured residents. The clinic, with dental and optometry rooms and a pharmacy as well as medical exam rooms, will have the capacity to handle 49,000 annual visits and more than 17,000 patients.

The campaign also includes three new GraceMed clinics in public schools – at West High and Jardine Middle School in Wichita and the recently opened one at Oaklawn Elementary in the Derby district. GraceMed’s other school-based clinics are at Cloud Elementary, Dodge Elementary, Gardiner Elementary and Gordon Parks Academy – all meant not only to “make sure that children access medical care at an early age” but “to help them get into the habit,” as GraceMed CEO David Sanford described it in 2008.

Sanford now hopes to have a new kind of impact at GraceMed’s first high school clinic at West High, where nearly 90 percent of students qualify for free or reduced-priced lunch. That 4,500-square-foot clinic, newly approved by the Wichita school board, could be ready to see patients by the 2015-16 school year.

“We have pockets of poverty throughout our community,” Sanford recently told The Eagle editorial board, explaining that Project Oasis is meant to bring primary care and other services to these local “health deserts.”

Sanford would like to break ground at the new south-side hub clinic next May and open on Jan. 1, 2016. Additional donations from individuals and groups will ensure that GraceMed can help more neighbors in need of health care in our community.

For the editorial board, Rhonda Holman