Clinica Medicos leaders and partners have begun renovations of a new 8,000 square foot facility designed to meet the dental and behavioral health needs of the Chattanooga area’s underserved and growing Latin American population.
The facility will be located a quarter mile from Clinica Medicos’ main location on East 23rd Street in a former auto service station that the provider acquired in 2020 after the pandemic began. Many Chattanoogans will recognize the vacant station as the first site to offer free drive-thru COVID-19 testing to the community.
Dr. Kelly Arnold, founder and medical director of Clinica Medicos, told a groundbreaking event on Thursday that the expansion is the next step in the team’s goal to make quality healthcare more accessible to families. who have few other resources and options.
“Like never before in Chattanooga, there will be a place ready for members of the Spanish-speaking community to attend to their emotional or psychological needs, as well as their medical and dental issues,” Arnold said, addressing a crowd. of more than 100 people.
Since opening in 2015, Clinica Medicos has grown from a staff of five treating more than 2,000 patients in the first year to approximately 40,000 registered patients and 45 employees, including doctors, nurses, medical assistants, administrators and others. It is the only bilingual primary care clinic in the city offering comprehensive care for all ages and stages of life, including obstetrics and pediatrics, regardless of the patient’s insurance status. or his ability to pay.
“There is a phenomenon in health care that the more patient needs are connected and care is defragmented, the more the relationship develops, any debt burden decreases, the safer a patient feels and the more his or her life gets better,” Arnold said. .
(READ MORE: Clinica Medicos works to fill gaps in maternal care for Hispanic women)
The renovation, which is expected to cost approximately $5 million, is expected to be completed in approximately one year and will result in a combined mental (Renuevo) and dental (Clínica Sonrisas) space of approximately eight bays and/or treatment rooms for dentistry , multiple therapist offices with family therapy and group therapy rooms, in addition to conference space for the organization, according to Arnold and spokesperson Kerry Hayes.
In 2020, Clinica Medicos management formed a philanthropic arm called the Medicos Mission Fund to identify and solicit funds to cover additional costs related to its mission. The largest of these contributions to date is a $250,000 grant from the Truist Foundation for the renovation.
Arnold on Thursday acknowledged many other private and public sector partners who have supported the expansion.
State Sen. Todd Gardenhire, R-Chattanooga, who spoke at the event, said improving education, health care and financial stability among the Latino community in Chattanooga is essential to the city’s future success and that failure to do so would be “one of the most tragic mistakes.” ” in the history of Chattanooga.
Gardenhire said after the event that $376,000 had been reallocated from Tennessee Governor Bill Lee’s proposed budget to fund the project.
(READ MORE: Hamilton County lawmakers redirect grant from Chattanooga’s River City Co. to health clinic, The Tivoli Foundation)
Hamilton County Mayor Weston Wamp spoke at the event and said he planned to approach county commissioners in the coming weeks to also invest in the facility, which he said former mayor Jim Coppinger had promised to do.
“What is happening in our community right now is a huge shift that will be fully revealed in the years to come as future doctors, elected officials and business leaders come from our Hispanic-Latino community,” Wamp said, noting that 9,000 of the county’s 45,000 public school students are Latinos. “Already in many ways, Clinica Medicos probably reaches more Hamilton County public school students than any non-governmental entity.”
Contact Elizabeth Fite at email@example.com or 423-757-6673. Follow her on Twitter @ecfite.
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