The first patient has already scheduled an appointment Monday at the Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas in Baxter Springs.

The first patient has already scheduled an appointment Monday at the Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas in Baxter Springs.

Anyone else wishing to make an appointment may call 620-856-2900.

“We have been discussing this since we opened our clinic at Columbus in 2007,” said Krista Postai, CEO of the Pittsburg-based Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas. “We’ve had the goal for four years of opening a clinic in Baxter Springs when funds were available. It’s a dream come true.”

The new 5,000 square foot facility at 2990 Military Avenue was funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and the generosity of several local donors, reflecting an investment of about $1 million.

“It’s beautiful,” Postai said. “It’s been under construction since last fall, and we spent last week setting up.  We’ve even got the magazines in the waiting room. It’s ready to go.”

The medical clinic, furnished by the Ronald O. Thomas Foundation, includes seven exam rooms plus a laboratory, as well as a dental clinic with six operatories, lab and digital X-ray.

The center will offer the full range of primary health care services including family practice, obstetrics, internal medicine, pediatrics, general dentistry and dental hygiene services.

Hours for the clinic will be from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday; 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday; and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. However, this schedule could be modified if it does not adequately address community needs.

“Our real test will come when we open,” Postai said. “If we see that there are gaps, we will fill them.”

One gap has already been filled.

“We will have prenatal services one day a week,” the CEO said. “Until we opened our Columbus clinic, people had to travel outside Cherokee County to receive prenatal services. We are very proud to be able to provide this vital service.”

Medical staff includes Julie Griffin, MD, internal medicine and pediatrics; Joshua Brueggemann, MD, family practice/obstetrics; Tony Mehaffy, MD, family practice; Alison Eaton, ARNP; Nancy Gilmore-Cashero, ARNP; and Mike Forbes, ARNP.

Dental staff consists of Michael Shepard, DDS, and dental hygienists Jeanna Keizer, RDH, and Amber Morgan, RDH. A second dentist, Allison Dodds, DDS, will join the staff in July.

Other providers and services will also be added in coming months, including a cardiology clinic to address the high percentage of heart disease prevalent in the region.

“Patty Carson, a nurse practitioner specializing in behavioral health, will start seeing patients in May,” Postai said. “We will either add or delete services based on what the community needs or does not need. This is their clinic, it is community-owned.”

She noted that the CHC/SEK board includes Betha Elliott, director of the Cherokee County Health Department, and Huey York, former Baxter Springs mayor.

“The community has been incredibly welcoming, and we’ve received lots of support,” Postai said. “Everyone has been willing to lend a helping hand.”

CHC/SEK currently serves more than 3,000 patients from the Baxter Springs/Galena/Riverton area who travel to the Pittsburg or Columbus offices.

“This new facility creates a new medical home locally, as well as an opportunity for many others who have gone without care because they couldn’t afford it or lacked transportation,” Postai said. “With the price of gas getting close to $4 a gallon, this clinic couldn’t have opened at a better time.”

It’s also in a good location to serve patients in neighboring states.

“If we lean forward from our front door we can see Oklahoma,” Postai said. “Since state boundaries are not a limitation for us, we expect to see a lot of people from Oklahoma and Missouri.”

Anyone can be a patient of CHC/SEK. It accepts Medicare, Medicaid, all commercial insurances and follows federal guidelines for discounted services. However, there is an expectation that patients will contribute to their care. For those who qualify, minimum payment for medical services is $10, and $35 for dental services.