CHC/SEK opened in 1997 as an outreach service of Mt. Carmel Regional Medical Center in Pittsburg. It was housed in what was then the newly opened Family Resource Center (now the largest non-profit childcare center in the state) on the second floor of a 90-year-old former elementary school. Its purpose was to ensure that children were “ready to learn” and did so by providing school physicals and immunizations five days a week regardless of a family’s ability to pay.
With the addition of a part-time physician and nurse practitioner, it expanded into a modular building behind the resource center and, at the same time, began offering one-day-a-week dental services at a nearby church. The clinic relied on the support of the medical center and small grants and with its sustainability in jeopardy, applied for and received designation as southeast Kansas’ only Federally Qualified Health Center in November 2002. In May 2003, ownership transferred from Mt. Carmel to a new corporation – the Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas Inc.
Its growth has been significant beginning in 2005 with the opening of a 5,000 sq. ft. dental clinic in Pittsburg. Growth continued in 2007 with the addition of mental health services including a psychiatrist, recruitment of a full-time medical director and the completion of a new 15,000 sq. ft. Pittsburg clinic. This facility fully integrates medical, dental and mental health services in one location complemented by an in-house pharmacy. Later that year, a satellite clinic opened in Columbus in Cherokee County and in 2008, it expanded further with the opening of a state-of-the-art dental clinic in Iola in Allen County. The transition to an all-electronic medical and dental record was initiated with all clinics converted as of January 2009.
In 2011, it opened medical/dental clinics in Baxter Springs and Coffeyville. CHC/SEK currently maintains eight full-time sites, with part-time services provided at the Cherokee County Correctional Facility and the Crawford County Jail for staff and inmates. In 2012, it began providing mobile medical services to Pittsburg schoolchildren in a new van and began laying the groundwork for the addition of 25,000 sq. ft. of clinic space at its main Pittsburg clinic. Completion is expected in 2014.
In 2012, CHC/SEK provided care to more than 30,000 patients through 90,000 patient visits. It also screened more than 20,000 children throughout southeast Kansas for dental decay, immunized more than 13,000 children and delivered 130 healthy babies. It employs more than 160, including 60 medical, dental and mental health providers.