Last year, when a beautiful, airy 50,000-square-foot health and dental clinic opened on a former brownfield site in the Edison neighborhood of Kalamazoo, it signaled a new chapter for an entire community. It also signaled what can happen when committed partners invest and work with residents over the long haul to create a place where everyone can flourish.
In the case of the Family Health Center-Southside, a $15 million, state-of-the-art, federally qualified health and dental care center, LISC Kalamazoo played a central role both in bringing the facility into being, and in creating the conditions that brought it to Edison in the first place.
Four years ago, a Kalamazoo County needs assessment revealed that Edison residents, half of them living in poverty, had extremely limited access to health care. Just a handful of doctors and dentists served the population of 9,000, and many residents were under- or uninsured.
LISC had been investing for years in the Edison neighborhood, supporting local groups and initiatives to stoke economic opportunity and community cohesion, and revitalize buildings and blocks that declined over decades of deindustrialization.
To date, LISC has injected some $19 million in everything from resident-led home repair and support for the Edison Neighborhood Association to new, cutting-edge buildings for the Kalamazoo Valley Community College campus. Those projects in turn, have spurred other development. Bringing the Family Health Center to Edison was an imperative step forward in the neighborhood's transformation.
LISC's investment of predevelopment funds, $8.5 million in New Markets Tax Credits, and grants toward the creation of the healthcare facility means that tens of thousands of area residents will have access to free or very low-cost health care and wellness services. It also created jobs for some 140 healthcare workers, many of them native to Kalamazoo County, and trained through Kalamazoo medical programs.
A $2.2 million dental clinic on the main floor of the center is the largest in any federally qualified health center in the state. Dentists and students from the University of Michigan’s dentistry school work with patients in a state-of-the-art clinic, where dental chairs pivot to give patients a view of sky and trees beyond enormous plate glass windows.
The clinic uses what's called an "integrated care" model, whereby a team of providers offer both preventive care and education for all needs—medical, dental and behavioral services, taking into account all the factors that contribute to a person's wellbeing. It also makes visiting the clinic a "one-stop shopping" experience, with an onsite pharmacy, too.
The new campus will be able to serve an estimated 30,000 patients from Edison and surrounding communities by its third year of operation. "Working with LISC helped us make this center a reality in record time," said Denise Crawford, CEO of Family Health Center. "And the change they've supported in Edison means we're in a community that's already working on making health and wellbeing a priority."
Photo credit: Fran Dwight
Private Sector Support
Public Sector Support
Executive Director: Chuck Vliek
141 E. Michigan Ave., Suite 501
Kalamazoo, MI 49007