Lake Area Medical Associates Clinic Expansion Nears Completion
Workers are putting the final touches on the Lake Area Medical Associates Clinic expansion, and the staff hopes to be fully operational by early summer.
The state-of-the-art facility will not only give the clinic room to grow, but will allow for better patient services, shorten waiting time, and attract new professionals in the area.
“The clinic has been crowded and running at full capacity for quite some time, and our providers and staff have been sharing spaces and operating in tight quarters,” Sabrina Aldridge, Clinic Director, said. “We are certain that this expansion will allow us to serve our patients at an even better level.”
The clinic is currently averaging around 1600 patients per month and has an active patient roster of about 5500 patients. With Cleveland’s population at approximately 3200, Lake Area Medical Associates clearly extends well into the region.
“We see patients from not just Cleveland but many other areas.” Aldridge said.
Not only will the expansion allow the current staff to spread out, but it will also allow for more medical providers.
“We are always recruiting and hope to add to our team as we move forward in our new space. It can be a timely process to identify and facilitate bringing on a new provider or team member. We seek those that have a heart for rural health care, that are excited to be a part of our vision and bring exceptional, quality healthcare to our patients,” Aldridge said.
The clinic currently houses six full-time medical providers, and one part-time mental health provider, with extended operating hours of 7 a.m. to 7 p.m..
Besides attracting new medical providers, Aldridge believes the new building will also aid in bringing on and keeping clinic staff.
“I think this is an excellent career opportunity for residents,” she said. “We offer competitive wages and benefits without having to commute to get that. I live here, and I know I appreciate not having to leave town each day to have a wonderful career.”
The hospital is one of Cleveland’s larger employers, with a staff of approximately 180, twenty-one of those who work at the clinic.
The 4000 square foot clinic expansion will feature spacious examination areas, all equipped and designed for greater infection control, as well as amenities for the staff. One of the most notable features, however, are the 2 points of check-in and waiting areas, that allow for sick or symptomatic patients to be accommodated on one side and well patient visits to check-in without risk of exposure.
“We discovered the need for having two intake areas during the recent pandemic,” Shelley Siler, who oversees the Cleveland Area Hospital’s marketing, outreach and community relations, said.
“The design was truly a collaborative effort,” Siler said. “We learned a lot during the pandemic, and that knowledge went into the design of this expansion. During that time, we were challenged to accommodate both our sick and our well patients, as well as supporting the health and safety of our staff. Access to health care will be better and safer for everyone.”
Lake Area Medial Associates offer the residents of Cleveland and the surrounding area comprehensive primary health care including wellness exams, immunizations, diagnostic laboratory testing, geriatric health assessments, physicals, preoperative evaluations, skin biopsies and treatment, smoking cessation, and women’s health services. They are also designated as a certified VA clinic.
Siler believes the clinic to be vital to the area.
“Cleveland is designated as a Medically Underserved Area (MUA) which means our population outweighs the access to healthcare,” she said. “The clinic is a service of Cleveland Area Hospital, and both are driven by a commitment to provide access to quality care to this region. A person should not have to sacrifice quality of care simply because they live in a rural region. We study our market, look at the data and listen to our patients and community so that our growth is focused on what this area needs.”
“We are really proud of this clinic,” she said. “Those who work in rural healthcare are usually led by their hearts. They love helping people, and they have a love of community. Providing access to healthcare is at the heart of what we do. For some folks, if travel is required, unfortunately they may go without the care that they need, which can have a negative impact on their quality of life. Our mission is quality care, close to home.”
The clinic has been open for operation during the construction. Once the expansion is completed, they will transition to the new area, and will begin an upgrade of the original portion of the building. Those upgrades will not cause the original side of the clinic to be closed. All work will be completed in phases.
Construction on the expansion began late last summer.
Siler points out that funding for the expansion was, in part, facilitated by a grant awarded by the USDA’s Rural Health Care Program. The grant seeks for preparedness of future events such as another pandemic, to increase access to quality health care, and improving community outcome.
“The team works hard to not only stay in the network of grant opportunities, but to execute application with both ability within our staff of navigating the process and preparedness financially so we can make the best use of each chance to secure longevity of healthcare to this area. It requires being good stewards of revenue and finances on behalf of this community, our employees, and our board of trustees. That is the single most important thing that sets us apart, is that we are independent, locally and community operated.” Siler said.
Completion of the clinic will not be an end of the improvements that the Hospital staff has planned. They have submitted and are moving through the process of application to the USDA for funding of a new hospital, hoping to have approval to move forward soon.
As the hospital celebrates their 60th year of operation this August, the need of facility replacement is supported by sheer numbers and utilization of this community.
No new taxes or bonds will be sought.
The Cleveland American