The free health care clinic that has served uninsured and indigent patients in Bartholomew County for the past 15 years is moving out of downtown Columbus.
Volunteers in Medicine will be closed today through March 4 while it moves from 836 Jackson St. to a temporary location near 10th Street and Marr Road.
The VIM clinic, which serves about 1,200 patients annually, has been communicating with patients to ensure they have access to needed medications during the transition, said Julie Abedian, president of the Columbus Regional Health Foundation.
The new location at 940 N. Marr Road is considered more centralized than the downtown location, VIM Executive Director Mary Ferdon said in a written statement. It is located on a city bus route.
The clinic operates through volunteer services of local doctors and nurses.
While the relocation will provide staff and volunteers more functional space, VIM will have to find a permanent home within two years, Abedian said.
“Even though Columbus Regional Hospital is paying the interim costs, it’s pretty expensive,” Abedian said. “They have other plans for that space, so we can’t stay there too long.”
At least two locations have been evaluated for a permanent location, with the goal of maximizing the services provided at the minimum possible expense to the community, Abedian said.
“We want to allow high-quality health care where our volunteer providers have the resources and abilities to provide the best possible care,” Abedian said.
Other goals include a centralized location that is as large as the 5,100-square-foot downtown location and that’s accessible through public transportation, Ferdon said.
The clinic is preparing for a future when it provides more chronic disease management, acute primary care and case management services required under the federal health care law, she said.
Cummins Inc., which bought two properties neighboring the downtown clinic last summer, announced in December it intends to build a wellness clinic in the block where VIM had been located since 1999.
The timeline is still being developed, but the company is hoping for a 2015 opening, said Melina Kennedy, Cummins director of executive communication.
The company is installing a sidewalk on the northern edge of the property, across from the city’s roundabout.
In December, a company representative confirmed Cummins was in negotiations to purchase the clinic building. Those negotiations are ongoing, Abedian said.
The wellness clinic would be the first of its kind for the Columbus-based engine maker. Besides traditional health care, the wellness clinic also likely would provide services such as nutrition and exercise counseling and health assessments, said Dr. Dexter Shurney, chief medical officer for Cummins.
Services would be available to company employees and their families as part of their insurance benefits but would have an associated cost and would not be free, Shurney said.
The city of Columbus, which purchased the VIM building in September 2000, had rented the building to the clinic for a nominal monthly fee. The city also owns the properties occupied by Eastside Community Center and Children Inc.
But last year, the city sold the VIM property for $200,000 to the Columbus Regional Health Foundation, the funding agency for the nonprofit clinic, with the money from the sale going into the city’s general fund, City Attorney Jeff Logston said.
Appraisals made last year for the property ranged from $550,000 to $585,000, but only if the property were cleared, Mayor Kristen Brown said in December.
Volunteers in Medicine
- Acute primary care (such as ear infections and strep throat)
- Annual physicals and sports physicals.
- Chronic care management (such as high blood pressure).
- Specialty clinics.
- Self-care resources.
- Lifestyle and educational programs.
- Patients must be a resident of Bartholomew County.
- Service is for patients with no health insurance (services, including medications, cannot be provided for Medicaid and Medicare recipients).
- Household income must be at or below 50 percent of the Bartholomew County median income, adjusted by family size.
Where to go
For those needing non-emergency medical services before Volunteers in Medicine reopens March 4 in its new location at 940 N. Marr Road, the Columbus Regional Health Foundation recommends the following two locations for affordable health care:
- Workplace Occupational & Wellness Clinic, Sims Plaza, 2329 Marr Road, Columbus, phone: 378-4511
- PromptMed, 2502 25th St., Columbus, phone: 372-8883
Those who have a medical emergency should immediately go to the emergency room at Columbus Regional Hospital, 2400 E. 17th St., Columbus, phone: 376-5278.