GRANITE CITY — A new medical center geared to serve low-income and uninsured people will open next week.
Southern Illinois Healthcare Foundation cut the ribbon on its new McKinley Health Center, located on Madison Avenue, only a block away from Gateway Regional Medical Center.
Its location is part of the partnership between the hospital and foundation, according to leaders. Gateway Regional President Mark Bethell said it is "a matter of pride" that the organizations team up to help those less able to afford quality health care, "as a community that quite honestly is challenged economically."
"I see the compassion that the board has," said state Sen. James Clayborne Jr., D-Belleville, who also serves as the Southern Illinois Healthcare Foundation board attorney. "This is a passionate board that is very serious about what they do."
McKinley Health Center is 31,800 square feet with 36 exam rooms, four dental stations, five behavioral health treatment rooms, laboratories and immunization rooms. Its $8.8 million cost was funded by a federal grant through the Affordable Care Act.
It replaces the foundation's Koch Health Center, which was its busiest center with more than 30,000 visits per year. The number of patients increased 29 percent since 2006, and the number of uninsured patients rose 57 percent.
The new center will allow an additional 10,000 more visits per year, on top of the 30,000, and 4,500 more patients. It also consolidates dental services from the Delmar Dental Center.
Foundation President Larry McCulley said the increase in demand made it "vital" for the group to expand its services.
"It's not just about the building," McCulley said. "It's about the lives of the people seeking health care today, and the generations who will seek this health care in the future ... health care that all Americans deserve."
It's also important for the city, according to economic developer Jon Ferry. With more than 60 employees, McKinley Health Center will be among the top 30 employers in the city. The new building also contributes to their efforts to revitalize downtown, he said.
U.S. Rep. Jerry Costello, D-Belleville, who helped the foundation acquire the grant, said he was proud the Affordable Care Act helped fund it. "This is a great day, not only for Granite City, Madison and Venice, but for the entire region," he said.
Southern Illinois Healthcare Foundation is a nonprofit organization that primarily serves uninsured and underinsured low-income patients. It has nearly 40 health centers in nine counties. In 2011, the organization treated more than 100,000 patients in 315,791 visits.
Contact reporter Elizabeth Donald at email@example.com or 239-2501.