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Community gets look at bigger clinic

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An open house Wednesday gave members of the community a chance to look inside the new Volunteers in Medicine Clinic.

The clinic, a temporary location at 940 N. Marr Road until a new one is built, is next to the Columbus Regional Health’s Rehabilitation Center.

The office has about 1,000 more square feet than the old location on Jackson Street, which was purchased by Cummins and has been razed.

The temporary clinic has more private treatment areas, a larger in-house pharmacy and larger office space.

About $50,000 was spent on renovations before the interim clinic opened March 5, according to Julie Abedian, president of the Columbus Regional Health Foundation.

Abedian called it a first step in planning to serve the future medical needs for the uninsured and underinsured.

The clinic serves patients with about 50 volunteer physicians, dentists, nurses, pharmacists and mental health counselors.

It is entirely supported by donations through the Columbus Regional Heath Foundation and operates from a budget of about $470,000 annually, Abedian said.

Jim Bickel, Columbus Regional Health president and chief executive officer, said the hospital is happy to support VIM during its transition to a permanent facility.

“We’ve been a long-term partner and supporter of VIM, and we’re just thrilled that they’re in a bigger and better space,” he said. “This is exciting, but we also know there’s a lot to come.”

Abedian said the temporary location will serve VIM for about two years while a final plan for the group’s future is ironed out.

VIM owned its former location at Jackson Street but has to pay rent at the new temporary location. Abedian said the CRH Foundation is footing the rent bill.

“It is a little more expensive to operate here because it’s a bigger space and utilities are higher,” she said. “But it was the best possible interim solution.”

Patients at VIM must be residents of Bartholomew County, have no health insurance available to them and have a household income at or below 50 percent of the Bartholomew County median income.

Executive director Mary Ferdon said VIM has been working with patients to help them with the Affordable Health Care Act enrollment process.

Ferdon said about 10 percent of the patient population will leave VIM due to insurance being offered through the federal program.

VIM has reached out to about 30 community members to help with a strategic planning process, VIM — Next Generation, which will evaluate the current volunteer model, look at alternative free-clinic models in Indiana and nationally, do some benchmarking at other clinics and evaluate future facility needs, Ferdon said.

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