Metro-East News

New low-cost medical clinic opens in Collinsville

U.S. Congressman John Shimkus shares a laugh with others Monday at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new Central Collinsville Health Center.
U.S. Congressman John Shimkus shares a laugh with others Monday at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new Central Collinsville Health Center. snagy@bnd.com

There’s a new medical clinic for patients in Collinsville — the 34th clinic opened by Southern Illinois Healthcare Foundation to provide more access to care for patients of all incomes.

The 12,000-square-foot Central Collinsville Health Center, 1215 Vandalia Ave., follows the new model for SIHF’s clinics in that it offers comprehensive care, including medical, behavioral health and dental care all under one roof.

As with all SIHF clinics, the clinic will accept most insurance plans including Medicare and Medicaid, and offers a sliding fee scale so that no patient is turned away for inability to pay.

That’s especially important on the dental side, according to clinic Director Cynthia McHaney. “Not many dentists will take Medicaid anymore,” she said. And there is clearly a need for those services: the clinic officially opened last Wednesday, and already they’ve seen 15-20 pediatric dental patients before the ribbon was actually cut.

Dr. Jeena Krishna, the staff dentist for the new clinic, said it’s very important for young people to get proper dental care as their teeth are coming in, as it can affect the way the jaw grows, speech patterns and whether or not they need braces, as well as the health dangers of untreated abscesses.

“The one week we’ve been here, we’ve gotten many patients,” Krishna said. “Definitely there is a need.”

The one week we’ve been here, we’ve gotten many patients. Definitely there is a need.

Dr. Jeena Krishna, staff dentist for the new SIHF clinic in Collinsville

Jessica Epperson is a clinical social worker who will operate at the Collinsville center, seeing patients from age 3 to adult. There’s a significant shortage in mental health services, especially at the pediatric level, Epperson said. She will be treating patients who need counseling for trauma history, depression, autism, Asperger’s Syndrome, addiction and other issues, and who may need access to psychological medication or treatment and coping mechanisms for ADHD. Many of her patients won’t have had intervention before, she said, especially children whose families don’t have insurance or whose insurance doesn’t cover behavioral health issues.

The clinic officially opened Monday with a ribbon-cutting attended by U.S. Reps. John Shimkus, R-Collinsville, and Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville. Shimkus said he remembered the first few clinics opened in the Collinsville area by SIHF. He said community clinics like this were “part of the solution” to the healthcare issues currently in flux in the U.S.

Davis said that whatever changes come to the health care system, they need to look after community clinics like SIHF’s network.

The $2.6 million clinic will have a reach of approximately 3,000 local patients, with half the building devoted as an information technology hub for the entire SIHF system that stretches across 10 counties in southern Illinois.

Larry McCulley, president and CEO of the foundation, said the clinics serve their primary purpose of delivering health care to underserved regions and populations in Illinois. “Their work to get and maintain and expand our health care centers is vital,” he said. “This is a wonderful, state-of-the-art facility that will provide essential services to people of all ages, and it reinforces SIHF’s investment in the people of Collinsville.”

The clinic is now accepting appointments for all three services, with pediatric care pending upon hiring a pediatrician. To find out more about care offered at SIHF clinics, go to sihf.org or call the clinic at 618-343-6015.

Elizabeth Donald: 618-239-2507, @BNDedonald

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