By Pat Maurer
Next year Farwell will have a new Health Center in the Village.
A groundbreaking ceremony for the new health facility was held Wednesday afternoon.
The new building will be located where the former physician’s office of Dr. Jennings was – at 522 Main Street (on the east side of the Village). The old office was scheduled to be demolished Wednesday afternoon at 3 pm as part of the groundbreaking.
The new Health Center will be a local branch of Isabella Citizens for Health Inc., (ICH), a Federally Qualified Health Center located in Mt. Pleasant.
ICH is a not-for-profit health care organization, established in 2010 for the purpose of building a Federally Qualified Health Center in Isabella County. providing integrated primary health care to residents of Mid-Michigan, according to their website.
A press release from ICH CEO Jennifer White said, The $1.8 million 6,000 square foot Farwell project, (which is three times the size of the old building), “will be modeled after the Mt Pleasant facility and will include primary care, behavioral health, care management, community health and pharmacy services. The timeline for the project is an estimated 12 months with completion estimated by the late summer of 2024.”
In an email Wednesday morning, White, who has been IHC’s CEO since they opened in 2013, said, “We’ve been looking at the Farwell location for a mini version of the health center model of care we’ve built in Mt. Pleasant. The need for medical and mental health services in that area is significant and resources for residents are scarce.”
She continued, “We’ve spoken to local leaders in the area including Steve Scoville, Superintendent of Farwell Public Schools, and Steve Hall, our Board Chair and the Health Officer for the Central Michigan District Health Department, to create a plan for what ICH can bring to this community. The new 6,000 square foot facility will provide space for three family medicine providers, an outpatient therapist, a RN care manager, a Community Health Worker, Pharmacy, and lab draw all under one roof. We like to call this our “one-stop-shop” model of care for most of what people need.”
White added, “The location provides easy access for many residents living in Clare County and the surrounding area. The close proximity to Farwell Public Schools is another bonus for kids and families. A significant number of our patients are already living in Clare County and this location provides them with an option for seeking primary care medical and mental health services closer to home. We also hope to see many new patients’ faces as we make our home in the new facility which we named ‘Farwell Health Center of Isabella Citizens for Health’. Another added bonus is that Brock Horsley, DO, who operated a family medical practice on this property about 10 years ago, is looking forward to returning to Farwell.”
She said that the plans to expand services into Farwell “align with needs for the county identified via the Federally Designated Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSA) rankings; Clare County is a designated shortage area for both primary care and mental health services.”
The ICH release said the Clare County project is one of two major expansions they have in development. “Currently the Mt. Pleasant site, located on Health Parkway just North of High Street, is under construction to build a 25,000 square foot addition, with an estimated completion in January of 2024.”
White’s release said, “ICH is one of 40 FQHCs in the State…and one of 1,400 nationwide. Last year, ICH served more than 10,000 patients with 31,000 office visits; 7,443 behavioral health visits; and 5,668 school-based behavioral health visits. The mission of Isabella Citizens for Health,” she said, “is to provide the highest level of health care, yielding an improved quality of life in central Michigan through access to team-based primary care.
The ICH website says, “Isabella Citizens for Health, Inc. provides the full complement of primary health care services across all life cycles. The center offers services to all people regardless of insurance status and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, socio-economic status, marital status, religion, gender, gender identity, sex, sexual orientation, housing status, national origin, ancestry, physical or mental handicap or disability, age, family status, veteran status, or any other protected status.”