Diversity Health Center has announced it will build a new facility at its Fraser Drive site and needs the help of the community to build it, literally brick by brick.
Diversity CEO Stephanie Jones-Theaker talked about the endeavor at an Eggs and Issues Breakfast hosted by the Liberty County Chamber of Commerce Wednesday at Connection Church.
Theaker called Diversity Health "the best kept secret" in the community.
Diversity Health is a privately-owned, nonprofit federally-qualified health center that serves Liberty and Long counties. It serves uninsured, underserved and insured residents. Though it is not a free clinic, DHC treats patients regardless of ability to pay. It will set up payment arrangements based on income and family size.
Theaker said the staff and board have been exploring providing more healthcare services, such as dental services.
To accommodate new services DHC will construct a new building on 4.5 acres, including the three-quarters of an acre where the current clinic sit. DHC bought the additional 3.6 acres for $327,000 in September.
The new clinic will include 11 additional exam rooms, a pharmacy, dental services, behavioral health services, accommodate more than 10,000 additional patient visits per year and provide 15 additional jobs. The project will be done in two phases.
The total cost is $2 million.
"Diversity invested some of our incomes and some of our revenues to get ready for this project and we invested almost about $100,000 up front, in order to purchase the land, do some clearing, do some surveying to get ready for the project," Theaker said.
Since then DHC has contributed $200,000.
Although DHC receives federal funding the center still needs funds, Theaker said.
"Federal funding only pays about 60 percent of our budget," she said. "The other 40 percent we have to come up with and most of that comes from private insurance, small grants and supplemental grants."
DHC had expected a $1.2 million federal grant to help build the clinic. The grant requires the project to be running within 120 days.
No grants were given out when the new White House administration came in, Theaker said, so DHC is negotiating a $1.8 million loan from Wells Fargo.
Diversity is asking for the community’s help to raise $600,000.
If Diversity received the federal grant one of the conditions would be community input of $600,000. Theaker said she thought the amount was still an attainable goal and decided to keep it. If the grant is approved, the donations show what the community can do, Theaker said.
"This is a community health center for the community by the community. That’s part of our slogan," Theaker said.
Community members can contribute by sponsoring a waiting room for $25,000, a laboratory for $10,000, or an exam room for $5,000. A plaque will be placed in the designated area with the donor’s name. People can also buy an inscribed brick for $50.
"If you can’t afford to buy a room, buy a brick, it’s $50 and you can be a permanent part of this health center," Theaker said. "I don’t own Diversity. The board doesn’t own Diversity, the community owns Diversity."
Smaller donations are also appreciated.
Theaker said the center provides the same level of treatment found at a regular doctor’s office, and for every insured patient they treat an uninsured patient.
In 2015, 8,799 patients visited the center and in 2016 the number rose to 15,000, Theaker said. She predicted that by the end of 2017 it will be close to 20,000.
The clinic will remain open during construction, which is expected to start in August and be done by the end of the year.
Donations can be made online at www.diversityhc.org, by mail, at any site or over the phone.